It seemed like it would never happen or that it would go on forever, but here we are. The eminent person project is officially and completely over. Seeing the grade 10’s last year work so hard and put themselves on that stage was awe-inspiring, but I never imagined myself in their shoes. Yet low and behold, I did it. We all did it! We gathered all the courage we had an exposed ourselves, vulnerable and in the moment, on that stage.

It was nothing short of an incredible night. If I’m being honest, the fact that Night of the Notables was happening on that day didn’t even sink in until I was backstage, two minutes before speeches actually started. As soon as the bell rang, I was whisked away by the hustle and bustle of setting up the MPR, getting everything I needed for my learning centre, and helping others. My mind was too clouded with rushed stressed to realize what was actually going on – today was the reward for what we’d been working on for an intensive month, and thinking about for much longer.

Explaining all the feelings I went through on that day would be too difficult, and I doubt I could even articulate it correctly without it ending up just being a myriad of screams.
What stuck with me most, and will stick with me the most were those moments on stage. Those precious and deceivingly short moments. I got up there in the costume I felt great in and poured my heart out – well, Mastani’s heart out. I felt her pain and let it all come out, as showing vulnerability is a strength on stage. I’m lucky to be someone who feels so at home on the stage, and I savoured every single second up there.

“This is what I’ve been preparing for.”That night was filled with so many emotions, but feeling them all together with my peers made this experience a  beautiful one. Everyone experienced the rush of getting everything set up together, the nervousness when you’re the next one up together, the overwhelming relief of returning backstage together, the embodiment of our people together, and the rejoice afterward together. The closing circle was on of my favourite parts of the entire night, realizing that we all made this possible together was, in simplest terms, adorable. We are a family, and we all had our own successes on Wednesday.

I was proud of myself, and I’m not going to be apologetic for that. I was proud that I was able to meet all my goals for this project, that I was able to create something I will cherish for years to come. I manifested quality work that matched up to my high personal standards, and I was happy. Like I;ve said numerous times, embracing my culture and showing it on stage was my biggest goal, and I am proud to say that in my eyes, I achieved it. I achieved it beautifully.

My costume was an authentic dress, inspired by Mastani herself of course. I wore traditional Indian clothing items that made me jingle when I walked, and jewelry that’s been in my family for generations. I spoke those Hindi words and let them fall out of my mouth naturally, no worry that most people wouldn’t understand it. It was a big step in my personal development.

It is not easy to sum up Night of the Notables. There were actual tears shed after it was over, which made me realize how much importance everyone put on this night. It was only our second time going through it (with added elements), yet it was also our last. My class and I are now official eminent alumnus. How weird is that?! If I absolutely had to sum up NotN 2016 in one word, it would be bittersweet. Sweet because we all performed amazingly and awed the audience, bitter because we would never experience this again and that we are just one step closer to the end of our TALONS journey. Overall, I hope my peers realize how wonderfully they all did and appreciate themselves for all the hard work they’ve put in. I also want to thank my peers and teachers for being pillars of support throughout TALONS, this would not have happened without you.

I’ll miss this.


Now, onto my learning centre!

Like I mentioned in my intro post, I would be recreating the Mastani Mahal. It was a palace built by her husband, Bajirao, to keep her safe from his own family. This was really interesting to explain to all the visitors! Out of everything in the eminent project, I was most anxious about the learning centre. I had a plan, and I gathered all the supplies needed, but I had no idea what it would end up looking like all together until the day of. I put a lot of thinking into how I could recreate this as authentically as I could.

It took large amounts of brainstorming, searching, and gathering – but it happened! Turns out I had most of the things I needed for my learning centre in my house already, thanks to where I come from and the things I own, and the many past Halloweens. It was all orchestrated together beautifully, and I was so happy with the way it turned out. I think Mastani herself would have been proud of me!

Talking to the visitors proved to be a very interesting experience. I loved seeing the aspects people cared about the most, and what parts of my learning centre intrigued them the most. I got asked a mass of questions, with some being more popular than others. A lot of people had never heard of Mastani before, which is understandable. A lot of them wondered how I died, why I married a Hindu, what the most impressive thing I’d ever done was, how I became a warrior as a female, what kind of person I was, and why I kept fighting. Honestly, I even surprised myself with how much I knew about her! I did my research well and thoroughly, but I was still able to eloquently answer questions that I’d never even thought about, such as “If you had to sum up your entire life’s moral in one sentence, what would it be?” and “What’s something no one knows about you?”

I was also impressed that I was able to stay so in character. I never broke, and even when people asked me where I got the food I was serving at my centre, I replied with “When your husband is a royal, they get delivered to you.” Some adults came up to me asking “You’re Hira, right?” and I replied with “Who’s that?” It was a challenge, but it added to the experience as a whole! I loved being visited by alumni, especially those I was close with. The proud looks on their faces made me feel great. I got a LOT of compliments as well! On my centre, my speech, my costume, and my overall presentation.
I could tell people were very interested in what everything in my learning centre represented, and I was happy to explain it to them.
Though I hardly got a chance to catch my breath, It was an extraordinary experience.


 

Here’s a look at it for yourself!

 

My complete look as Mastani!

The table on the left representing her artistic side (poet, musician, dancer).

The table to the left representing her warrior side.

Traditional Indian sweet (mithai) that I was serving.

The complete centre with everything put together!


 

And that wraps it up! Eminent project, it’s been good. Next time we meet, I’ll be an alumna.