A LETTER TO A DAUGHTER
An Excerpt from ‘I AM JUST AN ORDINARY MAN’
Now that you must have read An Extraordinary Man (Amitabh Bachchan)’s letter to his granddaughter, I request you to spend some time to read the letter written by an Ordinary Man to his daughters much earlier.
I am posting this excerpt from my book ‘I am just An Ordinary Man’ which was released in October 2014. I know a number of you who have read the book may relish (hope so) reading it again, but it is to the vast majority of friends who have not read the book who I wish will read this and may be find an echo of their own feelings.
‘Who would want to read the auto biography of an ordinary man? I know you will and may be other ordinary men. No one is going to write our biography; we are not that interesting.’
My grandson is a beautiful child and I am sure one day he shall grow up being a handsome and confident young man. But above all I wish to see him as a loving and good human being. I am hopeful that I shall be there to see this happen. I know you are capable of giving him all the love that he needs, but you have to ensure in the process that he is given his space and is allowed to develop independently. For this, it is absolutely necessary for you to take stock of your emotions and keep them under control. At every step you should make him understand what is expected of him for it is never too early to start. It’s most important he should understand the value of relationships. I look forward to the day (maybe when I am eighty years old) when I come over to your place on a visit he gives me a big hug and says “Hello grandpa, how are you?” that would be enough.
When I look back over the years, I think your mother and I have as parents given you and your sister all the love and space you needed to grow up as individuals who can take their own decisions and chart the course of their own lives. I am happy that you both have grown up as good human beings and I have no doubt about that. Of course we each have our own fallibilities but in the ultimate analysis if we can live a life devoid of all those base instincts of jealousy and a desire to hurt other people through our actions and words, it is a worthwhile life. I always wish that you become stronger, realize your own worth and are able to face any adversity with equanimity and firmness. Believe in yourself and never be shy of standing up for what is right. These are qualities which you will be passing on to your child.
Your mother and I are as individuals very different in our views and approach to life but we have been together for thirty five years and the passage of time has in no way diminished the love we have between us. That is because we have given each other the space required by us as individuals in our own right and a tolerance towards each other’s views and above all a trust that has grown stronger over the years. Not that we have not had our fights or have not been irritated at each other sometimes, we still have them but they have been of no consequence given the strength of the relationship. We may belong to a different generation than yours and have not been subjected to the pressures of the present day living and demands, but I guess the basic definitions for happiness, understanding and relationships will hold to whichever generation you may belong to.
I have always found that the best way to handle people who irritate you is to ignore them and move away. Conflict does not get us anywhere except increase the existing tension. By this, I do not propagate the view that one should always keep quiet for there will be situations where you feel that what is happening is unjust. In that case you have to speak out and make the other person see reason, or at least understand your point of view. If this also fails, then you will be left with no option but to fight it out. But, are we prepared for this? Do we have the necessary mental setup to withstand the consequences of such an action? These are questions that you will have to answer for yourself. I can only say that injustice should never be tolerated.
I never like to be preached upon and I try to avoid preaching to others. But I say all this out of parental concern. Your mother may have different views but we have only one thing in our minds and that is you should be happy and comfortable in your life. We never expect demonstrations of affection for we know you love us and that is enough.
Our life is one endless stream of choices. At every step we are forced to choose. We choose to accept or we choose to rebel. Ultimately the life you are living is the life you have chosen. There is no point blaming someone or for that matter God, that things have not gone the way you expected them to be. You make compromises all the way to ensure that you are not inconvenienced in the conduct of your life. In the process you may lose all that you had held as valuable. It is when we want to retain our values that we choose to rebel. Rebellion brings with it its own share of misery and suffering but it ensures that your life becomes more authentic and helps you realize your own worth.
As a father I can always advise you. Like I said I am concerned and that is the only reason. Do not allow yourself to be manipulated and do not manipulate others. Be a good person but be firm in your relationships and let people know that you are an individual in your own right and that you expect respect in return for respect. I never want to hear a weak voice when I talk to you and would always like to see you with an erect stature and look people in their eyes when you interact with them. These are the signs of an individual who knows oneself.
I have written this letter to you and would like you to keep it and show it to your children when they grow up so that they are able to understand and appreciate the concern that parents have towards their children. I am sure that with all the love that you are capable of giving them they will grow up to be fine human beings