My friends insist on muffins at Starbucks. I love gol gappas.
I will only have it dribbling in leaf bowls on dusty streets.
This despite Pa pointing to the vendor who dips his entire arm and dirty fingernails into the spicy water.
But the fun in the dirty and the imperfect? In taking naughty risks. On purpose.
I have won over my friends for now in this issue. They are gol gappa fans.
This tells me I am liked, with all my imperfections.
Can I someday be a leader? Will they follow in my footsteps?
I want to find out.
At fourteen, my classmates have chosen me as their leader to head the high school student council.
Each of the other five sections of class nine have chosen one of their classmates to lead.
The six of us will speak today in our second and final year of high school.
After this we will step into a momentous higher secondary level.
We will have to cope with the dreaded board exams for the next three years.
I am the only girl to compete. Girls, I know, are discouraged from leading.
I am tongue-tied, awkward and feel exposed to the eyes that will watch me.
I have picked on four ‘c's' to highlight. Confidence, character, competence and connection.
I have memorised my speech. This is what I will say.
One, I am my person. I seek my own answers and speak my mind with confidence.
Two, I learn by doing, swinging high and taking risks. Sometimes, I am right. Even if I fail, I try harder.
Three, I am competent. I solve problems and create opportunities for me and others.
Four, I prefer to connect with people who differ with my opinions. I do not ignore or fight with them.
My teacher tells me a good leader has plans for the future of their classmates and not just for now.
To this I will say, my classmates, girls in particular, need to develop their abilities. We should not defer our dreams.
I have been building myself up for this leadership over months.
It is the student vote that will decide which one of us gets the coveted post of leader.
Do you think I will make it?
Will I be able to show other girls’ what is possible? Firm up their opinions and narratives like I have mine?
I have a perfect karaoke song stashed away and ready for use as celebration if I win.
It is Emma Watson’s ‘Audition’ from La La Land. “Here’s to the ones who dream, Foolish as they may seem, Here’s to the hearts that ache, Here’s to the mess we make.”
Will there be harmony singing? Heart out?
Oomna at 14
Oomna at 8
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My magical moment
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Learning to be a leader