Mrs. Hilda M. Antram
Does anyone believe in Destiny? I certainly never, ever wanted to be a teacher. I felt I did not have enough patience – however, I ended up becoming one. After graduating high school, I left my hometown, Taungoo, and headed for Rangoon (now officially known as Yangon). There I enrolled in a private commercial school, got trained as a stenographer and eventually worked, not for what I was trained for, but as a general clerk in a small oil company where I was very happy. Being the youngest employee (only in my late teens), I was very much pampered by the handful of other employees. Since I really never needed to earn a living but was rather encouraged to strike out on my own, learning to be self-sufficient, and learning to cope with life, I preferred to be happy, rather than ambitious, so I never touched a typewriter or did a stroke of shorthand. I worked there for about two years and then got married. In those days only one breadwinner was sufficient to run a home and so I became a housewife and mother raising my four children, Geraldine (Mrs. O’Conner), Clive, Dawn (Dr. Selim) and Alexander.
With the outbreak of World War II, my family evacuated to India. It took us a whole month to trek. It was quite an experience!! In India, we settled in the South and I joined the Army (W.A.C.I.) Women’s Auxiliary Corp, India, in the Signal branch as a cipherette. On returning to Burma after the war, it was necessary that I continued working. I joined St. Mary’s Diocesan High School in 1947 as secretary to the Head Mistress, also substituting for teachers on sick leave. As conditions were not very stable, many of the Anglos left Burma, immigrating to other countries; thus causing a dearth of English speaking teachers. The Teachers Association decided to open up a teacher’s training class and I was encouraged to join it, although I had already begun attending the teaching of English as a foreign language at the British Consulate.
Due to family reasons, in 1957, I left St. Mary’s to join the Methodist English High School staff, teaching kindergarten class in the afternoon session. In 1962, after the military took over, all private schools and businesses were naturalized and the medium of instruction had to be in Burmese, and English was a second language subject. Though I spoke Burmese fluently, I had forgotten my writing as I was always poor in spelling, but could still read hesitantly, so I had to start brushing up my skill in Burmese. Later, the private schools were state-run and after volunteering to stay on and help with the transition period, I eventually quit, at the age of 67. I was disgusted with having to undergo each year of re-employment, a medical examination — especially the testing for venereal disease where one risked infection. No way was I going to risk that possibility, not at my late age! Besides, the salary was not such an inducement!
Thus my teaching career, one I never wanted, was ended, after almost twenty years, not from M.E.H.S. but from Dagon I as it was eventually named. Perhaps it was my destiny and had to be fulfilled. With advancing age and experience, I have mellowed and learned patience and gentleness. I am now living in Georgia with my eldest daughter Gerry and my grand children.
Mrs. Hilda M. Antram
2882 south Clark Dr.
East Point, GA 30344
June 14, 1999