To The Woman Who Shaped Who I Am Today
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To The Woman Who Shaped Who I Am Today

I love you.

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To The Woman Who Shaped Who I Am Today
Pooja Sharma

Exhausted from yet another mentally demanding day of Kindergarten, I trudged home from the bus stop eagerly awaiting my afternoon cartoons.

My dad was out of town and my mom worked until late as usual.

Although my nanny was home, no parents could separate me from my TV. I threw my backpack onto the floor and collapsed on to the couch ready to relax. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pinch, and I was being dragged by my ear to the kitchen table.

“Open your backpack and pull out your homework,” my nanny demanded. Reluctantly, I scribbled through the Monday assignment, impatient to get back to my cartoons. When I was finished, I tried explaining that the other assignments were intended for the rest of the week, one for each day.

“You’re better than that. Do them all today,” she explained. This became the routine; every Monday I would complete all my school assignments. The rest of the week she would teach me how to read and write Hindi and how to cook simple meals. When kids asked about who the woman waiting for me at the bus stop was, I started telling them she was my grandmother, because the title “babysitter” did not do her justice.

After eight years of her scolding me more than my parents did and pushing me to my limits, I was finally old enough to take care of myself. Before she left her job with us, I promised her I would continue to strive for perfection, but truthfully, I didn’t know how.

Soon after, without her daily prodding, I fell short of this promise. My procrastination had me up all night cramming for a Chemistry test. I felt the faint sting of her pinch on my ear and heard her voice reminding me: What happened to finishing all your homework on Mondays? The rest of the week is to focus on the other priorities in your life. I tried to push the thoughts out of my head, but the disappointment still lingered.

I cruised along for a few years, continuing to do the bare minimum until I suddenly received the news that my grandmother passed away. The overwhelming guilt of my empty promise consumed me. I missed the lessons she'd taught me: why simply going to school was not the key to success, why my family was the most important and why I should strive to give everything my best effort.

My parents advised me to lighten my load, reminding me that average was okay, but my promise to my grandma encouraged me otherwise: I can be better. When they pushed me to quit dance, my newfound motivation inspired me to pursue my dance degree despite the arguments. They assumed the long hours and tight schedule would take a toll on my academics, but through my grandma's lessons, I proved them wrong. I finished the bulk of my school work on Mondays so I could study the history of Indian dance on Tuesdays, learn dance pieces on Wednesdays, teach dance classes on Thursdays, and still ace tests at school on Fridays. I could compete in a Science Olympiad competition on Saturdays, spend an afternoon with my cousins on Sundays, and still be prepared to conquer a brand new week.

These are the values she instilled in me the day she dragged me by the ear to the kitchen table. She showed me that not all gifts come in wrapped boxes under the Christmas tree. That little sting on my ear is the best gift I have ever received, and that little sting will forever drive me towards success.

I wanted to make her proud more than anything in the world. She was the one who sat down with me after school and helped me scribble through countless word searches. She was the one who walked me all the way to the pool because she couldn't drive. She was the one who sat in the sun for hours at each and every swim meet because my parents couldn't be there. She was the one who played cards with me after we were done eating the delicious food she made every night. She was the one who told me stories before I went to sleep. She shaped my whole childhood, and I owe much of who I am to her.

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