I think it will take some time. To change from being ‘Rini Miss’ to just plain old Rini.
Missss. Meeeessss…and sometimes said so fast and in such urgency that the ‘s’ gets swallowed.
Rini Miss, miss , miss , MISS..Mi…Meeeeee !
Of all the roles that I have played in my life – being ‘Rini Miss’ is one that I will forever hold close to my heart. Being Miss to 35 beautiful people has undoubtedly changed my life.
It’s very rarely that you get so much love – genuinely, freely and without question. The way they shout with joy when they see me enter the class after a half day leave. The way two little girls literally kept their fingers crossed for two hours because I had a job interview. The way they share their “pursnal” stories – the way they listen to mine. The way they accept. The way Janani stood up on that last day and told me with tears in her eyes – “I will miss a friend”.
The way my thirty five students turned into my friends.
They opened my eyes into a world that I had only read about. Unemployment , poverty , domestic violence , abuse , malnutrition , alcoholism – all these were just words to me. Until I saw Janani’s dad commit suicide because he couldn’t pay his debts. Or Srinithi’s mother’s arm in a sling – thanks to her alcoholic father. Or when I see Sonu’s sister – pencil thin and curled up in the ward of a government hospital. The fact that I saw and experienced these , filtered through the eyes and minds of innocent children – and the effect it had on them hardened me and softened me all at the same time.
The lenses through which I look at the world has changed. My understanding is deeper – more empathetic. My priorities are different. I am acutely aware and constantly distressed by the vulgar disparity of life around me. The need to do something about it gets stronger every day. For my kids- and for the many kids like them.
I honestly think that being teacher to my class has made me a lot more self aware. Every step I take is often filtered with the thought of – “Am I really practising what I preach?” . These two years have been a lesson in integrity to me. A constant daily unrelenting practice for keeping myself accountable. Because Rini Miss has to be a role model.
Before I became Rini Miss, I did not know I was capable of so much love – or worthy of being loved like this.
To me, this has been the most rewarding, overwhelming, enriching, refreshing – and utterly beautiful period of my life.
For those sceptics ( Amma) – who might still tell me – But you ‘lost’ two years of your life or your career is set back by two years or that’s two years further away from success.
To which , I must reply with a quote I read somewhere –
“ To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”
When I see Nandhini today – writing beautiful letters – where she couldn’t put a word together two years back…
When I see Janani and know that she is going to be taken care of…
When I see Rakshana today – talk loudly , confidently , clearly – from being the shy recluse she was..
I know I have touched lives. I know at least a few on this earth have breathed easier because I lived. I find a meaning for my existence..
To me these two years have been the most successful ones of my life.
I start my new job come Mid-may.
But I know I will remain Rini Miss – forever.