Dear Puja and Siddharth,
These days since I have nothing to do, and all the time in the world to do it in, I thought I’d pen some `Father’s Day’ musings..
There’s little I can really pass on. You guys already know so much, and have seen more of life than I had seen at your age. Nevertheless parents have an incurable habit of proffering advice, in season and out of it, even when it is not needed. It arises from affection, from protective desires and from anxiety for your welfare, born out of love. If you find what I say superfluous, as I sincerely hope you will – nay, am sure you will – you can ignore it forgivingly (so what’s new, you may well ask).
First of all, let me thank you in advance for the Father’s Day wishes, and the gifts you have always given me. Not just the ones wrapped in cellophane (although those are appreciated too), but the real gift of making me proud at the wonderful human beings that you have become. You two are by a HUGE distance the best things to have come out of my life..
As a dad, my father didn’t set the bar very high. Even so, I truly wish I had raised it higher than I eventually did. Today, in the evening of my life, when I look back to my own childhood and early adulthood, I can’t but help feel that my generation has been the `in between’ generation - stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. We are the ones who `copped it’ from, as well as failed equally the generation that preceded us, as well as the one that followed us.
Take the case of Mrs X, who had a rough time with her mother in law. The saas had virtually made her life a living hell. And like the Duracell ad, the old lady just went on and on, showing no signs of calling it a day. When she finally did hand in her dinner pail, she was well into her nineties, and Mrs X herself was pushing a weary sixty. But did she get any relief? Perish the thought! For who should be her new tormentor? Her daughter in law – right! As the lady put it in the delicate way only a true blue Punjabi lady of her generation can, “Sari umar saas meri chaati pe baithi rahi, aur jab woh gayi, toh bahu aa ke baith gayi!”
We couldn’t utter a word in the face of our parents for fear of being castigated. Now we don’t utter a word in front of our children for fear of being ignored or merely laughed at! How will it be between you guys and your children, I wonder..
Now that you both are married and have your own lives and priorities, you will face similar quandaries, and I’m sure you’ll handle them with much greater wisdom and sagacity than my generation ever did.
I know that, as time goes on, your interaction with us is bound to become less and less frequent, and also more and more brief. This is nothing to feel guilty about. It is a sign, not of callousness, but of an expanding horizon and a change in perspective. But do be in regular touch – however briefly. You are more important to us than we are to you. Also with the years, our need of you will grow greater, your need of us less. Therefore be kind and considerate. Our demands will be urgent to us, but not great or difficult to fulfill . . .
This letter has almost become like Polonius’ speech to Laertes in `Hamlet’ (yes, do look it up, it is pure genius - something only the great Shakespeare could pen). It’s probably as full of clichés and as pompous as Polonious’ string of wise sayings was. But pompousness does come with grey hair and expanding waistlines – it’s a package deal.
A last word of advice. I may not bequeath you great wealth or fortune, nor filthy lucre, but what I would really love to leave behind as my legacy is that the two of you be there for each other always – through thick or thin. Towards this end, I know your spouses too would have to chip in and play their part, but knowing Sukh and Sowmya, I’m sure the legacy is in good hands.
Lastly, whatever you do in life, do have a good time – I am using ‘good’ in the Greek sense. The Greeks had the word kalos, which meant three things at once – the great, the good and the beautiful – for in their great wisdom they realised that all three were inseparable.