Poonam Benakatti, 130 YinD
If I must carry this feeling around for the length of my life, then I’m not sure I could do it. There is a cluster of clouds that follows me around. A cloud of worry, a cloud of strength, one of love, and the heaviest one being a cloud of fear. I’m followed by the fears for their futures. I want them to have everything. If having a child, one day, comes with a paralyzing crutch of worry, I don’t know that I could do it.
I didn’t expect to care this much and was truly unaware of how attached I would become. Who knew I’d fall so deeply for my community and develop this unpredicted love for my students? I’m not their parent, their grandparent, or family member. So I spend some time reflecting about why my throat closes up when I see my 13 year olds buying cigarettes at our village shop. The clouds churn my stomach when I see them academically give-up. I try to wipe the shock from my face shortly after realizing I am the first person to ask them what they want to be when they are older. The thought of ever being a parent is daunting. I wish there was a way to measure the amount of emotion that goes into loving and living for the well-being of my students. What kind of an investment would having one of my own compare to?
Being a volunteer, you are reminded daily that you are not doing this for the high salary. I could leave at my will, but you see that’s the beauty of being a volunteer. The work seems drastically more important because I am here for no other reason than wanting to be here. Doing something outside the human obligation to financial security has emotionally carved me to feel and be different than before. I fortunately and unfortunately have created a deep and resilient bond with all of those stinkers.
Here’s a shout out to the moms and dads, the aunts and uncles, the grandparents, the family friends, and the pals that spent any amount of time or emotion on us as we were growing and continue to do so today. Shout out to them for worrying about our safety, keeping us protected, and loving us to the best of their ability. For now, you can find me spending the rest of my service followed by my gang of clouds, and some persisting apprehensive thoughts about raising a child of my own (one day very, VERY, far in the future).