by Soorej P
My dear son,
Receiving this letter would have come as a shock to you. I had safeguarded this letter with the express command that it be delivered to you only once you had the child I was not destined to see. Much as I wished to see the child you were going to have, my illness had the final say in this regard and so I had to pen this letter, which might help you be a better parent than I was.
My dear son, you have been a blessing to me. No father could ask for a better son. I know I have not been the perfect father but I could not have loved you more. Sparse with words, I may have come across to you as indifferent. I still vividly remember the day you were born – the first time I held you… cuddled you…kissed you… You became the focus of our universe and the centre of our lives. Your mother and I, as we were very much in love then, showered all our love on you. As you grew, I was proud of even the most minuscule of your achievements. Your first walk… your first words… it all gave me immense joy. You became the apple of your mother’s eye but you imbibed quite a lot of my traits too. As good as it may sound that you inherited my traits, you will only realise the follies in it when you reach my age.
I was more concerned with being your father than your friend. I have often refrained from showing my love and affection to you… during times I should have held your hand as you struggled to face the challenges thrown by life. I know it would have hurt you, especially because you could see me showing the same love and affection to your sister. If you ask me why, I don’t have a clear answer. Maybe it is the way men are brought up in our culture-it is hard to show love and affection to boys as opposed to girls. It is not the right way and I do not want you to realise that late in life. I don’t want you to end up having to write a letter to express your love to the person you loved the most in life. I want you to live your life expressing your love.
I had been raised by my father to be strong and proud – something which you have taken to heart very strongly indeed. A man should not cry, my father used to say. I can only wonder how difficult his life would have been when he tried to avoid tears. My child, life is to be enjoyed and not defeated using strength. You need strength to enjoy life’s ups and downs and not to defeat life. Your strength should be a source of strength to the people in your life. It is not bad to feel weak in life – it is the moments of weakness which show you the value of the people around you. So, when you raise your child, let the child be free to laugh and cry at life. Pride is something which is as essential as it is not. Your pride in yourself should not go beyond your mind and lips lest it lead you to more pitfalls. But ensure that you retain pride in yourself so that your confidence is never shaken by others. So raise your child to have pride in his or her abilities and to maintain the confidence to face life ahead. It is a gentle balance to have pride without showing it but I have belief in you to be able to impart that balance to your child.
Teach your child to not take life seriously at all times. You have an easy going nature which made you popular and yet as you grew, you became very goal-oriented and success-driven. This came naturally to you but it grew to the point where you missed the beauty of the little joys in life. Life is too short to worry about everything it throws at you. I know the drive which pushes you to succeed in everything you do. It’s something even I have cultivated in you. Life is not just about winning, my dear. No one can win everything in life. I won a lot of wealth and prestige while I lost moments with you. At this age I realise the triviality of what I won and the significance of what I lost. So make sure your child realises that it’s more about how life is lived and less about what is won or lost in life. And down the path of life, you will come across shortcuts (which I know we both enjoy) and instances where you need to step on toes. I failed to guide you through such situations with integrity and self-respect. Your mother’s moral sense ensured you kept the straight path on more instances than not but I recognize my same flaws in you. So, ensure that your child learns to maintain self-respect and integrity even when offered shortcuts. And in a world filled with human beings, may your child be a humane being who values the people around and not use them as stepping stones.
My fingers ache from the typing…let me rest a while…
You know my illness gets my body tired even after a small exertion. And in these last days, it has become even more cumbersome to do even the smallest of tasks. I wanted to keep all of you around me, till the time my eyes closed. And that is why when the doctors gave me an idea of what my last days would be, I preferred the soothing calmness of death over days and nights of agony along with the emotional burden of being a source of pain to the family I loved above all in my life. Undergoing surgery and treatment with little assurance of success is not the way I want to enjoy my last days with all of you. It is somewhat fitting that I am writing this letter in my office room, the very room where I spent more time than necessary, especially the time I should have spent being a part of the lovely family I was blessed with. This brings me to the last topic I want to cover with you – family. In today’s world, friends and family are very important parts of a person’s life. Make sure you never mix both and never give one importance over the other. Be very selective in making your family – they need not always be blood. You are born into a family and they will always be a part of you. But the family you build, in your life, can compensate for any of the misgivings of your birth family. Think over these lines as you are a person who has a lot of friends and if your child follows in your footsteps, make sure your child realises the meaning of these lines. I was blessed to share my life with a simple, strong and loving woman, with whom I have raised you and your sister. And it was fulfilling to see you and your sister finding strong partners who can support you in rough weather. As time goes on, keep each other close. When new people come into your life, make sure you don’t forget the old ones. Let your life be a chain connecting people in your past and present. Keep a clear conscience at all times and never contemplate an action which might bring grief to your loved ones.
Take care of your mother as she grows old. Be there for your sister when she needs you. Shower your love on your child, be it a boy or girl. Let your children enjoy life to the fullest and live out their dreams. Be the guide and friend of your child, walking along with them rather than being the dictator who continuously instructs them. I am looking at the last family picture we shot as I write these last words. Strangely, it feels as if I have all of you around me and I telling you this in person. Tell your mother, once more, that there is no one I loved more than her (she could never get enough of hearing it). Give my blessings to your wife who filled the void when I married off your sister. Tell your sister, that she will always be my little princess. Tell my son-in-law, that I could not have found a better person to take care of my daughter. And for you my dear son, words fail me. I wish I could give you a hug to convey all the love I have had for you… all the loving words I felt but never spoke to you… all the affection I missed showering on you. Condone any of the slights you have felt while I raised you because you were truly most beloved to me, my dear child. I will always be with you, watching over you. Wishing all of you a life time of happiness…
Soorej is a banker, professionally married to numbers and now re-kindling an affair with his first love – words. Books and movies provide sustenance in life centred on his baby daughter. A supportive wife makes him chase his dream of being a full-fledged author. He plans to retire owning a library/bookshop, ensuring a steady supply of new books for him to read.