TURNING EIGHTEEN by Maya Chandrasekaran

There are some landmarks in one’s life that are of utmost importance - the first day of school, turning ten years old (imagine being a whole decade old!), graduating from school, and finally, turning eighteen. The words eighteenth birthday have some sort of magical effect on most teenagers. It means the transition from the wonder years of teenhood, to the exciting years of adulthood.

What’s so special about eighteen, you ask. It’s just another birthday, after all. Well, let me tell you some of the things eighteen stands for :

It stands for being able to drive. It means not having to ask everyday, "What time can you pick me up?"; it means not being at the receiving end of the whims and vagaries of the sullen autodrivers, who know where they want to go, and get quite upset when you want to go in the other direction; it means not standing on one foot, and looking desperately for light and air in a bus that contains just about as many people as Australia does! No, it means freedom. Eighteen means being old enough to drive, and finally being in control.

It stands for becoming a person - someone of importance, and no longer ‘just a kid’. Being eighteen means being able to vote. Of course, now the question arises - do we really want to vote? Voting means being, to some extent, responsible for whoever is up there in Delhi, creating chaos. Up until now, we could look upon the shenanigans at the Centre and States with a smug smile and say, "We didn’t vote for them. We’re not responsible for what you unthinking adults do!"

Eighteen means being given your own set of keys to the front door of the house. This means that you are now officially an adult, able to come and go as you please. Of course, that still doesn’t mean your parents won’t wait up for you and chew you out for coming home late, but then, becoming an adult has nothing to do with being scolded by your parents. You could be seventy going on seventy - one, with dentures in your mouth, and a misplaced pair of bifocals somewhere, and your parents would still be telling you off for going out without a sweater, or skipping lunch!

But if eighteen means parties and celebrations, drivers’ licenses, and the right to swagger into the local pub, it also means responsibility and adulthood. It means being in charge, and in control, but sometimes it seems so much easier to let someone else, like your parents, do all the leading. Sometimes it’s so much easier to let someone else make all the decisions , and take all the accountability for them. It means that from now onwards, you’re going to be treated equally with everyone else - there are going to be no more special considerations, as in the case of a child.

Turning eighteen has a very special significance in everyone’s life. It’s interesting, it’s eventful, it’s exciting, and it’s more than a little intimidating.