How I Stopped My Students from Becoming Child Soldiers
My name is Leila. I’m a lesbian from Iran. I migrated to Britain a few years ago. I was a teacher in my country and the story that follows happened in the summer of 1986 when I was in my twenties.
In order to make my story understandable for a foreign reader, I should explain the situation of those years. Shortly after the 1979 revolution, a theocratic dictatorship began which harshly oppressed the women in Iran. In 1980, a war started between Iran and Iraq. Since the government couldn’t provide sufficient military hardware for its army, the army had to rely on human waves. Masses of humans had to be brainwashed into believing that they are fighting in a holy war and if they die they go straightly to Heaven. But what kind of place was this Heaven? According to Islamic clergy, Heaven is a paradise full of tasteful food, beautiful palaces and Houris — mindless sex slaves who always stay virgin and unconditionally offer themselves to faithful people!
The government used propaganda to encourage martyrdom. Since it’s a little hard to brainwash a grown man with that promise, the propaganda mostly targeted children. Brainwashed child soldiers were suitable for human waves since they made submissive cannon fodders. There was even a lesson in school books about a 13 year old child soldier who tied grenades to himself and jumped under a tank! I’m ashamed to admit I had to teach such lessons at school without realizing their effects on my students.
Back then, I had made a small safe world for myself which was separated from the rest of society. Nobody cared about me and I didn’t care about anyone else either, except for my partner Faranak. She and I were friends since our childhood. We grew up together, went to school together, realized that we were lesbians together and became partners in secret. She was also a teacher and worked in the same school with me. We are still together after all these years. Our families were close too. Back then single women weren’t allowed to live alone and homosexual relationships were a cardinal sin which could lead to execution as well. So, Faranak and I found a solution; There were many people living in our families small homes, so we asked them for permission to rent a small unit just across the corridor from theirs. With us so close, our families felt as though we were just living in another room, and their homes had more space. Faranak’s family was also okay with that for similar reasons. Thus, I managed to create a safe place for myself and my love to live freely and happily.
The government of Iran enforced mandatory wearing of Hijab for women and was extremely harsh on women teachers. We had to cover all of our body except for face and hands with thick black clothes. On the outside, I was a strict Muslim woman who dressed in black and preached the governmental propaganda at school. On the inside, I was a sexy lesbian who listened to western music and went to bed with another woman every night.
One summer I had to teach the students who had failed their exams. Unlike the educational year before the summer when classes were crowded, my class only had 10–12 students who had failed in their Mathematics exam. I tried very hard to educate them, but it was useless. I dressed in a thick black veil in an extremely hot summer, went to school, spent several hours teaching Mathematics and gave them a small booklet which was simplified as much as possible and contained anything they needed to know to fully answer every single question in the final exam. But all that was to no avail. They never listened. Their minds were not in the class.
I had become well acquainted with them. They were good people. Some of them had jobs and were providing for their families. We were in a relatively poor neighbourhood and as a result of hard lives, their faces looked much older than their age. Some of them had really believed the governmental propaganda and expressed a desire for going to the war fronts. That saddened me. I felt that I couldn’t just hide in my little safe place with my love and ignore the outside world. Faranak — who didn’t work during that summer — agreed with me as well. She encouraged me to motivate them. Failing could have meant no future for them. Most of them probably would have ended their education after that.
They had all the material means for passing the exam. All they needed was to read my booklet thoroughly and carefully once or twice. But that was too much to ask. They had failed the previous exam, not because they were stupid or lazy, but because they felt that there was no point in schooling. The “heroic” lifestyle which was propagated back then for a student was abandoning education, becoming a religious zealot who sacrifices himself for the ruling government, goes to heaven and finds Houris waiting for him there!
At the last session I tried one last time to educate them. I explained a simple question which I was planning to put on the final exam. But when I asked them to repeat my solution, there was no response, as if I had talked only for myself!
So, I resorted to my final solution: a motivation. I knew they were close friends, so I said “If you all pass the exam I will buy you cookies and if you all get a high grade I will buy you ice cream”. I meant to motivate them to work together and encourage each other for studying harder. But they started laughing. One of them said “How about giving us pacifiers? Those work better for us!” another one said “Get a lollipup for me!” and another one said “I want a bedtime story!” I realized my mistake. They were not little children. I couldn’t motivate them with candies. I felt stupid and embarrassed. How could I have made such a mistake?
As I was processing my mistake in shame and regret, I heard another voice. “What if we all get the perfect score?” That was surely not a serious question. They wanted to mock me some more. I really don’t know how it happened or what I was thinking; maybe I felt so belittled that I felt compelled to give a mind-blowing answer to put them in their place; Maybe after realizing how childish my original promise was, I decided to replace it with a grown up one; Maybe I meant to challenge their manly pride by offering them something they couldn’t reject for fear of being belittled themselves; Or maybe it was a combination of all these reasons. But, in any case, I gave the following answer: “If that happens, I will get naked and do an Arabic dance for you all!”
Suddenly the laughter and buzz stopped. They all stared at me with their eyes wide open and mouths half open. After a few seconds someone replied, “Seriously?”, and I answered, “Of course! You think I’m a liar?” At that moment I felt powerful for silencing them and ending their mocking. Now it was them who needed to defend their manly pride. In their minds, turning down an offer like that would have meant that they are not interested in women! And since one person’s failure would have meant no prize for the rest, that put extra pressure on them for working hard to get it!
They made me swear that I would do it. When some of them objected that fulfilling my requirement was impossible, I assured them there will be no question they wouldn’t be able to answer if they understand my booklet perfectly. I promised to dance for them and to make it more believable, I reduced my promise from dancing buck naked to dancing in bra and panties. They all agreed to study as hard as they could in order to get the highest grade possible, which wasn’t very hard to achieve if they really tried.
I went home laughing. I thought to myself: They are such simpletons! They actually believed me! When they realize I lied, it will be too late! By that time, they will all have graduated with good grades! That’s what’s important, not their disappointment afterwards!
I told the story to Faranak. She was shocked. We had talked before about how the governmental propaganda was harming the students. She asked how my promise was less corrupting for their minds than the promise of Houris in an afterlife paradise? I tried to convince her my intent was to motivate them toward something that would actually benefit them. She insisted that if I lie to them, I might motivate them once, but they would feel stupid and betrayed and will become untrusting for the rest of their lives. She said “If they graduate like this, they will fail next year, end their education there and you have merely wasted one year of their time.”
She was speaking the truth. I had made a hasty decision without considering the consequences. I was thinking of my own success and not their future.
But what could I do after realizing that? That was the last session of our class. I couldn’t see them until the exam.
I couldn’t come to an acceptable solution. There was no acceptable excuse for not doing what I had promised. I could have made the exam harder than what I had promised. One mistake was a sufficient excuse. I could have been very strict when it came to correcting their papers. But that was a betrayal of their trust.
Faranak asked me “Why don’t you actually do it?” At first I thought she was joking, but she was serious. She reminded me that we danced at the secret parties we attended without our families knowing. She asked me, “What’s the difference? Are those students less decent or more outsider than some of those weirdo guests who stare at your good parts at the parties? Besides, the school is almost empty when you go there. The only other person except the students is an old janitor who never visits your classroom in that hour and you can lock the door to make sure of that.”
I began to think for myself. I realized that I had become a tool in the hands of the government for preaching its nonsense ideology. Why can we promise the students that they will see some imaginary sex slaves waiting for them in heaven if they get themselves killed for some stupid cause, but they can’t see a real woman who is not covered in suffocating black clothes? How was dancing for them as a present for accomplishing something beneficial immoral but promising Houris as a present for doing something criminal was moral?
I thought if I left them like that, not accepting my responsibility in preaching that poisonous propaganda and never try to change what I’ve done, how can I justify my own lifestyle? What if someone like one of them discovered what I did in secret? Even if that never happened, I had to live the rest of my life feeling guilty as a hypocrite.
I put myself in my students shoes for a minute. What was a woman in their imagination? What image had I created in their minds? A strict and sullen person who always covered herself in black in order to avoid provoking their sexual desire — that was the legacy which I left for them, whether I liked it or not. I labeled them perverts from whom women need protection from.
But I didn’t want that to be my legacy. I had one final chance to correct that. I could prove to them that women can be fun and sexy without being slutty. I could prove that they didn’t need to die for some stupid cause to receive sex machines as a present in the afterlife; They could have real women who had minds, cared about them, were honest with them and appreciated their good behavior.
Faranak also argued that punishing all of them for a tiny mistake of a single student wasn’t fair and would ruin their friendship with any person who failed to get the highest grade despite trying hard; and if I’m going to do what I had promised, I should ignore a few slips and do it if I become assured that they have really tried their best.
So, I took Faranak’s suggestion. I prepared a sexy set of black bra and panties which went well with my white skin. I got an Arabic music cassette tape and practiced some Arabic dancing. On the day of the exam I put on some makeup and did my hair. Faranak also accompanied me to encourage and support me, make sure I fulfill my promise and, perhaps more importantly, see me dance semi naked in front of the class!
As we were expecting, none of the school staff except for the old janitor (who barely left his room or cared about anything) was in the school. Students were disappointed when they saw another teacher with me. One of them asked, “Miss, what about your promise?” I informed them that my promise stands and Faranak was there to make sure of it!
I sat them away from each other to make sure no one cheated. The exam began. As I had promised, studying my simplified booklet was sufficient for answering all the questions. After the exam, Faranak helped me to correct the papers. And what do you know! There was not a single slip! They all got the perfect score! When I announced that, there was a hooray!
I was somehow relieved that I prepared myself for keeping my end of the promise. Disappointing them at this level could have made them very angry.
One of them asked, “So, will you do it?” and I replied “Of course, did you doubt me?” But I asked them to listen to me for few minutes before getting their reward. I explained the conclusions which I had arrived at and apologized for preaching the nonsense which I had taught during the year. I explained that being beautiful and sexy isn’t equal to being a slut and they should see me as a person who is entertaining and rewarding them for their hard work, not a sex toy who wants to seduce them to having sex with her; and that they should respect women and value their personalities as well as their outer beauty.
After that I locked the door and put the cassette player which Faranak had brought on my desk. I asked the students to sit in the front row. Faranak also sat there with a big smile on her face. I was still covered in the official black veil, scarf and gown but I was just wearing a sexy set of black bra and panties under them. I removed my veil and opened my scarf, revealing my black hair which the students were forbidden to see and had no idea how beautiful it was. I wanted to make the last part a surprise, so I turned away from them towards the black board and undid the buttons of my gown. Then I turned towards them while I was holding my gown from opening with my hands. I asked “Ready?” they simultaneously replied “Yes!” and Faranak replied the loudest!
I dropped my gown and revealed perhaps the most astonishing sight they had seen in their lives (except for Faranak of course!). There was only silence and amazement for a few seconds, until Faranak broke it with whistling and clapping and soon everyone joined her! I laughed and realized that I wasn’t ashamed or afraid at all. I posed for them for a minute and let them get used to my body. Then I turned on the cassette player and started an Arabic dance. The viewers clapped with the rhythm of the music. I danced for about five minutes, until the end of the music. When I stopped, Faranak began chanting “Again! Again!” and not surprisingly, everyone joined her!
I was just getting warmed up, so I met their demand. I felt that I was getting better and their whistling and clapping encouraged me further.
After the second round, chanting started as before: “Again! Again!” by this time, you don’t need me to say who started it! “Nope. It’s over!”, I said. “Ahhh! Please! We were having fun!”, they pleaded with me, and I surprised them again: “No, don’t get me wrong. I meant that the prelude is over. I’m just getting warmed up. I’m not going to repeat the same dance for you until you get bored with it. Since you have been very hardworking and polite, you deserve a special reward.” They asked what it is, but I didn’t say a word. I just smiled, gently opened my bra and threw it on the desk! The class exploded with whistling and clapping! Especially Faranak was so excited that it was like she had never seen me naked!
I began the third round. This time I did my best. I just wish we had a video camera back then to record it! That day I danced a total of five rounds which lasted about half an hour. I was topless during most of it. Despite all the sexual attraction my body and moves may had for my students, I felt that what excited them the most was my courage and honesty, not mere sexual attraction. My students could find pictures of naked women elsewhere, but finding a teacher who dared to risk her life in order to fulfill her promise, in a society which was polluted with hypocrisy and lies, was something to celebrate!
At the end I thanked them for their hard work and politeness. I had danced almost naked for them for half an hour without hearing a single indecent word. That meant a lot for me and proved that they really listened when I asked them to be respectful towards women and not see them as sex toys.
I knew that I couldn’t expect them to keep the whole affair a secret, but I wasn’t afraid of any gossip. On the contrary, I preferred to publicize what I had done without confessing to doing it. I felt that I had nullified preaching those horrible ideas during the educational year by my final act, and I stand by my decision to this very day.
That night Faranak returned my favor. We stayed up all night, tussling beneath the sheets, body to body. As a result, two of my best memories took shape in a single day!