Monday, December 31, 2012

A Letter to Shifrah and Annika

It's midnight and the both of you have been asleep for a few hours now. The reason I write this is not to tell you how much I love you both, I'm sure you know that by now but to share with you some of my thoughts as a father, a young father, well a young-ish father anyway.  When I get older and 'wiser' I'm afraid I may lose a some of the idealism and the restlessness that I now have and it is very important for me to write this down now so that you may be able to understand these thoughts when you grow up.

You are two fine young children and I can see the makings of two fine young ladies and there isn't a day that I am not immensely proud of the both of you. But I can already see that the weight of this world and our society impose itself on the both of you and that worries me.  Obviously this is more so with Shifrah due to your school, your homework and also because you are an elder sister who is expected to grow up just a little quicker than you would have liked.

Before you know it, you would be caught into what we fondly call the 'rat race', despite our words to the contrary you will feel that the world at large (and even us your parents) measure you by the marks that you score or the rank that you get in class.  You will be taught that success in life depends on those very numbers or worse yet, as young ladies, the men you marry.  You will be encouraged to do creative things as long as they are socially acceptable like painting or singing or playing a musical instrument but those too will subject you to a rigorous regime.

With my experience of the both of you, you will rebel at most of these things and then accept, some if not all of these social do's and don'ts, eventually.  We all do.  I honestly do not know if these rules are right or wrong.  I do not know if a strict school or college brings out the best in people or stifles creative minds neither do I know if our social rules, especially the ones concerning young women, protect them or enslave them. What I do know is this, that there is but one life to live and I urge you my darlings to live it to it's fullest.

When I say that it does not mean that you break all the rules and live a life that you generally see in the movies but to live it like you have extracted the best of each day.  Most people I see around me are consumed by some quest or some need, it may be for work, money, fine things, popularity, a fitter body etc.  This quest is ever consuming yet unattainable. I have yet to meet a business man who says I have all the money he needs or movie star who says he/she has reached his/her pinnacle and is done with all the fame.  We move around like zombies, with only this quest in our minds, yet we don't realize the gifts of the world that surround us!

I read somewhere that if life was like a glass jar and the most important things in life family, friends, good deeds were pebbles and the less important things like work, money, fame etc were sand, you need to fill your life with the most important things first, i.e. the pebbles before you find space for the less important things i.e. sand.  If you fill the jar with the sand, there will be no space for the pebbles.

Even at the most important times, things like marks or ranks are teeny tiny grains of sand.  Yet many of us make that mistake of filling our lives with them.  The highest of marks, the best of colleges and the most sought after jobs (or husbands for that matter!) do not guarantee happiness.  Happiness is not something that you get from anything outside yourself, it is within.  There are a few exceptions to this though and mine are when Annika calls me 'Appa' or when Shifrah tells me 'I love you', I can barely contain the tears of joy.

If you have to be consumed by something, let it be that realization that you are given the gift of life, a gift that can only be realized by the sharing of it with others.  Being a part of a society does not just mean following it's rules but also being an active contributor to it and lending a hand to those who need help through thoughts, words and deeds.

Ever since Pattimma's passing away last year due to cancer, I have begun to realise one thing that all that we have in life, our possessions, our talent even our family have been given to us for a reason.  We are not owners of anything but are trustees.  It is for us to maintain them well and to use them in which ever way God intended us to use them. Hence hoarding or being foolish with them only goes against what we should be doing.

Another thing that will happen as you grow is that there will be a lot of guilt thrown at you because none of us can do things the way all of us think we should be doing.  In this, if there was one voice that you should hear and hear clearly, is that of your own conscience.  Realize this that all of us (even the ones that have forgotten their childhood)  some point in time have gone through the same issues and felt the same way too.  I used to think that my parents were very studious in their formative years and they have never had the issues that I faced in school and college. Only later did I realize that Thatha had almost done all the same things that I had done and gotten into trouble in the same ways too.  By the way, one of your great grand mothers had been known to jump the odd college wall to bunk classes by the way.   One of you parents has done this too.  I'm not advising you to follow their footsteps but in case you do, you sadly will not be the first in the family.   When you are both done with college, let us do swap stories of all the things that we have done, till then this is all you get!


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Straight from the heart - I love it!
Happy New Year Rabin, Shireen, Shifrah & Annika!

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