Monday, September 21, 2009


Many a times I fell like Peter Pan, a boy who never grew up. I still watch Tom and Jerry, laugh at stupid jokes, dread to sleep alone after a horror movie, love Mathu and Cheenu , read Tinkle (remember Suppandi),throw tantrums and never am quite sure of myself. But yet on Aug 10,2009 I grew up or had to grow up. I became a father!

Akshath Chandra was born on a bright sunny August day at 9.15am, a week before the scheduled date. As usual I had been procrastinating the date for at the least trying to be responsible till the date of his birth but he jolted me by arriving a week early. Veteran fathers describe the moment with various terms : “Emotional”, “Divine”, “Unbelievable”, “Beautiful”, “Trance” or er.. “I have no words to describe it”. But strangely I felt none of the above, just a plain “it’s happened” feeling and broke the news amidst the con-call we were having in our office. It did take some time to sink in and then I must admit being a little overwhelmed. The feeling can be best described as one with a mix of happiness, anxiety, elation, fear, pride and failure (oh no! one more in the world like me!). To be frank I was expecting a daughter who would be beautiful, more confident and world-wise than I could ever aspire to be. Alas, strange are the ways of the Divine Will!

Here again, why should your son resemble you (God forbid!) and follow your aspirations for him? I believe the fundamental misstep parents make in raising a child is to bombard him or her with their goals, the ones they could never achieve or never made an effort to reach out. Khalil Gibran put it beautifully for any aspiring parent in “The Prophet”:

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

Well said Khalilji but you never had any kids as far as I know. But a common man often loves his kids too much thinking a well-trodden path is best for their happiness stalling the baby steps towards a road less taken. A recent ‘Puthukavithai’ in Ananda Vikatan brought out the mental violence we unwittingly inflict on children succinctly,
                                                         குறை ஓவியம்
                                                       யாரோ ஒருவரது
                                                       குழந்தையின் கிறுக்கல்கள்

We nip the bud of creativity thinking it might wean them towards a bohemian life making them unfit for the ‘Real’ world. Money always looms large and clouds our thinking of the child’s future. In our times even free-thinking has become a rich man’s plaything. Should a middle-class man’s child forever be confined by a decent paying job, decent looking house, decent looking partner and decent death? Everything decent, nothing he/she aspires for?

These were the thoughts that ran through me waiting in the hospital counting the seconds to catch a glimpse of my son. Will I ever be a good father? Only guiding and mentoring never interfering or domineering, admitting things I do not have a clue about, always remembering the way I was at the same age, giving him the financial backup I received from my father ….. I do not know how I am going to accomplish even 0.001% of this. My parents have set the bar so high, giving me the best of everything. Will I make them proud atleast this time? Again answers are very hard. For that I will have to grow up, finally!
தம்மின் தம்மக்கள் அறிவுடைமை
said Thiruvalluvar. Hope he puts my achievements to shame quickly. That should’nt be tough!

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