On Becoming Miss Independent

Rachel Gokavi   |   September 26, 2014 

Miss Independent
It’s 5.30 a.m. and my phone alarm rings incessantly. I have to pry an eye open to dismiss it. I roll over and then it strikes me - I’m an adult now, with adult responsibilities. More so because I have twenty-five kids who in a couple of hours will look to me for guidance. It’s like a jolt of electricity; I leap up and remember it’s also my turn to make breakfast today. My flatmates have the luxury of a half hour more of sleep while I cook, how I envy them!

A quick shower (remembering to put the motor on or there won’t be water in the tank all day), morning ablutions and then digging into the recesses of my mind for something I can make that is not pancakes (something eggless and made with wheat flour, the perks of having vegetarian roomies). At least my wardrobe is never an issue – throw on any kurta and a pair of tights, standard bun and slather on sunscreen. I’ve forgotten that kajal exists.

7.00 a.m and breakfast is done, bags are packed and the door is double locked. It’s a good day when we find an auto willing to take us to our destination within ten minutes. Wrapping our dupattas burkha-style, we’re off to school where the day passes by in a whirlwind of kids and chaos.

Sometimes I pause and wonder "So when and how did this become my life?" I stop and rewind and try to conjure that imaginary bubble up again – that childlike ideal of what the grown-up world is like.

The Grown Up World meant Independence - freedom from rules, from the parental “Eye of Sauron” interrogating you on your every move, setting curfews, banning movies, telling you that dress is too short. It meant living on your own, buying what you want, going where you want when you want, and wearing what you want. Or so I thought.

But the bubble has to pop sometime, I suppose.  And pop it did. First there was the trauma of not knowing what to do after college, then the drama of finding a house to live in, then having to learn how to handle money, deciphering the tiny print on bills for water, electricity, society welfare and rent, to dealing with a network of maids more clued in than the mafia!

Now when I walk into the mall I don’t make a beeline towards Zara or Forever 21. I find myself browsing through household goods, wondering what the house needs or looking through stationary, thinking about the needs of my kids and classroom. A trip to the 'kabbadi' market to buy furniture holds the same excitement as a trip to a theme park.

When did that happen?  I can't quite put my finger on it.

And as for work, the induction into such a structured routine comes as quite a shocker after a lax three years of college. Everyday runs like clockwork yet no two days are ever the same. A day is filled with moments – the enthusiastic greetings of my students when I walk into the classroom, the multiple tiffin boxes shoved into my face the moment the lunch time prayer has been said with kids vying for their boxes to be sampled first. The beam on a child's face when I flash them a thumbs up because their answer was correct, the random little notes pressed into my palms when I feel like I'm failing miserably (an increasingly regular feeling).  The incredible moment when the most disinvested boy in my class actually opens up his notebook to write, the laughter that's still possible when wading calf-deep in sewage water because you're not alone in the experience – these are the moments that make me feel like growing up is the most vibrant, kaleidoscopic aspect of life. And that it's continual, not just a phase.

Yes it's tough, tougher than I ever could have imagined. You learn the true capacity of your brain when it comes to how much stress it can take without imploding. Yet God in his grace has also given me a myriad of moments as a counter, it's up to me to sit up and take notice of them, just like His gentle whisper in the wind.

Now in my early 20s, I realize that there is no clear demarcation between childhood and adulthood. There is no burning of the bridge that links the two. As Bryan White succinctly puts it, “People never grow up, they just learn how to act in public.”

I love how C. S. Lewis says, “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” When it comes to placing our faith in and reliance on our Father, there is not better state to be in than that of a child, even as an adult. And although I'm growing older, at heart, I hope I will always be a child, excited by the silliest of things and wanting to sit on my daddy's lap even though I'm well past the age (and weight!) to do so.

 

What has been the hardest thing for you as you've transitioned from childhood to adulthood? Share in the comments below.

 

 

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Rachel Gokavi

Rachel Gokavi is currently a first year fellow for Teach for India. She teaches an exuberant bunch of 4th graders in a low-income private school in one of Delhi’s largest illegal colonies. She is a dabbler who has a keen interest in Japan, languages, and appreciates foreign and indie films, though k-dramas will always be a guilty pleasure. She enjoys having a good laugh with friends, literature, travelling and best of all, sampling different cuisines. She is currently trying to discover her passion.

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2 comments on “On Becoming Miss Independent”

  1. I don't have a scheduled nap time anymore 🙂 I find myself enjoying and reliving some of my great childhood memories... Especially reading the books I loved as a kid!

  2. You're tackling so much at a young age! I'm grateful for your dedication to your kids and how you are jumping in with both feet into a new and challenging life. Thanks for sharing with us!

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