This piece appeared in the Speaking Tree column in today's Times of India. I was talking to a small group of fresh Chartered Accountants who passed out from our classes recently, and some of the points I touched upon in my talk is a part of this piece too. Irrespective of that, the piece is a good read.
Dear Pranav, It's been 20 months since you set foot in the world. When I held you for the first time in my arms at the hospital, your tiny hands were twitching and your eyes were shut tight.
Your clenched fist reminded me of a science lesson that said to get an idea about the size of your heart, you should clench your fist. I could imagine the little heart throbbing inside you. The eternal miracle of birth. When it was my turn to witness it, I cried.
Before I married your mother, I used to debate one question endlessly with my friend. Which is, "Is it really worth bringing another life into this world?" Especially when terror has become an ugly leitmotif in the canvas of our lives?
When I switched on the TV that Wednesday night, the question of whether I was right in bringing you into this world haunted me again.
This is my attempt at an answer. Call it catharsis.
I feel there are two ways to raise you. One is to wean you on cynicism. Where you'll erect a sky-high wall in your mind and live your life pouring scorn on everything you see. Which is one way of insulating yourself from fear... A kind of indifferent machismo.
The other way is to prepare you to live in this world. I can't imagine the world for you, son. But i can certainly show you the way to live in an uncertain world. Make a pact with yourself. Understand the following early on.
Life is precious. And equally fragile. So every day is a gift. Get up early once in a while just to watch the sun rise. Stare at it intently and burn it in your memory. Be aware of every passing second. Look around you. There's a thin stalk of plant finding its place under the sun in a crevice on the wall of our apartment.
Appreciate mother's cooking. Praise it to heavens... Make it a habit to eat together as a family. No, make it a rule. Fall in love with books. Words will transport you to worlds far away. It will also keep you informed and prepared.
Follow your heart. The mind can waver but the heart seldom does. Respect your conscience. It's like a post-it note from God.
When you grow up, seek a job you love. As you enter the world of careers and cocktails, you'll get sucked into a vortex called rat race. Don't be overwhelmed. We're all human. But have the courage to step out of it. Nothing will be lost. Some illusions will shatter. Good riddance.
Money. It's important. But it has its place. Don't make the mistake of putting it right on top.
Find your love. Hold it dearly. Be a good husband. A patient father. Give your children space to make their mistakes. But hold them when they fall.
Speak up when you have to. Like this occasion. Whether we like it or not, we're living in a democracy. Sure it has its pitfalls. But don't forget the positives too. The real fight in a democracy is between remembering and forgetting. Go and vote. It's your chance to give shape to the kind of society you want to live in.
Be alert. But try not to live in a state of fear.
It you were to get caught in a situation similar to what happened and should we lose you, then you will have left us with enough lovely memories for the remaining years. That will only happen if you start living every day like it is the last day of your life. Though it can never compensate your loss, at least we'll find strength in your love for life.
Don't have regrets. They defeat the very purpose of life.
Immersed as I am in work most of the time, this letter is also a wake-up call for me.