Tag Archives: realisation

Of growing up, growing old and letting go

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Of growing up, growing old and letting go

Of growing up, growing old and letting go…..

I have no excuses for not having written for such a long time. 3 years to be precise and I can’t even blame writer’s block since I am hardly a writer 🙂 But as I read what I have written previously and I can see that it literally seems like a different lifetime. I still feel very passionately about many things and those things have changed as I have moved through the various phases of my life. I write when I have something to say, something I feel so strongly about, but I just can’t seem to get it out through the spoken word. My head has millions of thoughts that are going through and so writing to me has been about getting those thoughts out of my system – what I can’t say out loud and yet my written words speak so loudly on my behalf.

Of late and ever so often I have been thinking about what my life is all about and what the meaning of my life is. I guess when you hit your 40s you do start to question what you want from your life – after all I am perhaps in the second innings and I want to know what I have to show for it. So much is the conundrum in my head that I even named my Instagram handle (@still_soul_searching), simply putting it my soul searching state of mind. It’s the search for the peace of my soul and the passion to drive my inner being perhaps

While the 40s may have brought out the more confident me, a man who perhaps now realises that you only live once and so Carpe diem, my friends. I now speak my mind and clearly stand up for what is right, no matter the consequences. After all, I want to sleep well at night knowing that I did the right thing. But my life hasn’t got any simpler, and actually does it ever? On the one hand, your children get older and need you less and less and on the other hand, your parents grow older and perhaps need you more and more. Such is the irony of life and makes you wonder how you can be the best parent and also the best son. All the while ensuring that your spouse does not get left behind as you try and juggle what you need to do for those who may need you the most.

We recently celebrated my daughter’s 11th birthday and the more I see her, the more I realise that my little girl isn’t so little anymore. She’s blossoming into a fine young lady with a mind and a life of her own. Not sure where that leaves her old man really !!! But I always knew this would happen. We always wanted for her to be a strong person and making choices and then living through them as well. Even though, sometimes those choices may not be what you may have expected or even not be you. Perhaps one of the greatest joys and also the greatest pain of being a parent is when you can give your children the ability to make their own decisions and in the process, you are not in the final decision that they make. I hope the choices she makes now make her life more wonderful and fulfilling and include everyone around her who are important to her. I cannot make her choose what should be important to her and I can only guide her towards that. But the decision must be her own and I hope she will always remember me as the father who may have guided her but always let her choose. As the father who never forced his views on her – when many a time he may have wanted to scream and tell her to choose him!!!!! I believe in a higher power and I believe in karma and so I believe that it will all come back to us in this lifetime itself. So do your best and don’t hope for the rest. Perhaps it is now the time to let go. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt when we were not her choice but then I put myself in her shoes and go back 25 years or more and think of exactly the choices I made when I was a kid – only now the roles were reversed and I was facing those choices, as perhaps my parents would have done. It’s funny how life comes through a full circle.

In the process, I have become more aware of my parents and their needs, after all they aren’t spring chickens anymore 🙂 They may have too much self-respect to say out loud that they need me – not financially but more emotionally. For me to be there regularly when they want so speak their minds or just hear someone speak theirs. But growing old brings with it, its share of challenges and requirements – both health and well-being and it’s funny how we now have names and explanations for all kinds of medical conditions that we just thought of as symptoms of ‘old age’ when we were growing up. Being forgetful was just what grandparents did at their age when we were kids but now we have all fancy names for such medical conditions. I think I liked it better when life was simpler. When I was the younger one and could look upto someone to guide me through all the tough decisions in life, when I was not the mature one, when I was not the person who everyone looked upto to decide what should be done. When I saw my parents as the guides and not as the ones that needed to be guided. Nowadays I look at my mother and I see an innocent child, a child who gets joys at the smallest of things and who can get upset also at the smallest of things. But just like a child, it is soon forgotten from her memory and she goes back to being the most lovable person I have ever met. As Carl W Buehner has rightly said They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel. Same is with my mother and makes me realise how little it takes to make her happy and while she may not remember what I said, she will never forget how I made her feel. The loving hugs, when I paint her nails or her worries when I am unwell. But I am not her and I don’t completely know how to handle it all the time – I do get confused and do let off steam but it doesn’t get us anywhere. I know she never did that when I was a child and she would patiently make sure that she taught me the right thing, without ever making me feel small. Perhaps I have a long way to go in being a better parent or just a better adult when I connect with my mother and maybe with a lot of others as well. So life is tough and yet life is simple.

I had met a professional once who had very wisely told me that the 40s are the perhaps the most trying times of our lives – on the one hand, our children don’t need us as much and on the other hand our parents start needing us more. It’s how you balance the disappointment of the former with the responsibility of the latter that makes us better adults and more caring and responsible human beings.

I guess in this entire process, I have perhaps grown up a little. Still stumbling my way through managing disappointments in my life, to accepting the choices that my daughter makes to trying to be a better son and sometimes a better parents to my parents. I have been lucky to have a partner who has always been way more mature than her years and someone who will knock some sense into me one way or the other. I guess, somewhere I my heart I know, that with her, I can still be a carefree child sometimes, when it gets too much and she will be there, solid as a rock to pull me through. No one said life would get easier as you went along and maybe I will look back one day to all that life has had to offer and I will smile and remember that I made someone smile after all ‘SOMEDAY YOU WILL JUST BE A MEMORY TO SOMEONE. MAKE SURE YOU ARE A GOOD ONE’.

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Can you see with your hands?

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I walked up the steps to my apartment on a Friday evening and knocked on the door where I was greeted by my daughter and our dog. As I put my hands on her face and kissed her forehead, my dog kept tugging at my pants wanting his piece of attention of ‘papa’s time. I drop off my things and go into the room and have just about sat down on the bed when my five year old comes scampering into the room. She has just come from her mum’s place and I ask her how her week has been in school, how are here friends and what she’s generally been upto. In the middle of this conversation, she nonchalantly cuts me off

Kiddo – Papa, you know in our class, there is this girl, she is my friend Sagarika

Papa – oh, is she a good friend

Kiddo – tch, tch Papa, don’t interfere. You know, she can see with her hands…..

For a few seconds, I am stumped and can’t figure it out, but before I have time to react and actually assimilate what has just been said, she continues

Kiddo – papa, you know, Sagarika can’t see with her eyes and our teacher told us that she can see with her hands.

I am stumped again and finally figure out that she is talking about Sagarika’s ability to read through braille. I stare at her for a few moments and she goes onto to tell me that her friend has the most beautiful laugh and without wasting a second starts clapping her hands from way low as she throws her head back in gay abandon, flicks her hair and continues to laugh with her hands now raised high above her head, clapping and laughing with reckless innocence.

I look at her and can just smile at the beautiful and innocent moment and she goes onto say

Kiddo – Papa, you know, whenever I go away and come back to Sagarika, she always asks me what my name is

Papa – but sweetheart, that’s because she can see with her hands

Kiddo – ya, she always touches my face and starts laughing, as she says, that she knows me…

I was just getting sucked into this innocent yet beautiful conversation and could not help thinking of the immense contribution of the teachers here – who chose not to highlight the lack of a certain ability but instead chose to highlight the heightened ability of the child and make the other children see the same. It was pure genius and hopefully the start of a confident start of a really beautiful life for this little girl.

I couldn’t help myself from brining this up when the met the teachers the next time at the PTA and I told them how great it was for them to have educated the children in that way – not many people would have thought of it, atleast not me. I could feel a lump in my throat as they talked so passionately about the child and her abilities and it just made me realise how lucky we are to have all our abilities, in the most traditional sense.

This one incident took me back to my days at school when in the 11th grade, my teacher came upto me and told me that we had a new student joining our class and she wanted me to initiate and guide him through the classes as he was visually challenged. She told me I would need to be there to assist him through classes, help him with some assignments and just make him feel comfortable in the new surroundings. I didn’t think too much of it readily agreed. When we met him (my friends and I) we were surprised at how normal the kid was. While we clearly had no expectations, his ‘normalness’ surprised us. The initial time was tricky, helping him through but before we knew it he was part of our group as if he had always been and we could not imagine how we didn’t know him earlier.

He appeared to be sweet but he was a bad ass like everyone else 🙂 and was cracking dirty jokes as good as anyone else…..He and I got very close over a period shared a lot of stuff, infact, he was not the good boy everyone thought he was. But it was to be our little secret.

Well, we finished school, and moved on with our lives, being regularly in touch initially and less and less as time moved on. I got a job, married, had a kid, divorced and married again while he kept up his education ending up with a PhD and being a professor in a local university. He is independent, travels to college everyday, prepares his lectures and comes back after a very fulfilling day. I understand he is also a very popular professor at the college. His life would be a great book which I hope someone will write someday – just for the sheer grit and determination he has shown and how he has fought against the odds and the googlies life has thrown at him and emerged better that any of us ‘normal people’.

We are still very good friends and when we catch up I am just so happy for what he has achieved professionally. I am not sure I could have done it had the higher power dealt me the same hand he was.

I come back to the present and see how things are still the same, the system (atleast the one I am in) is giving everybody a chance to succeed and my daughter is also making a friend whose abilities are different from hers yet she is being taught to appreciate the uniqueness of every individual.

That night, as my daughter goes off to bed, by habit, I clear the hair off her forehead and kiss her goodnight. As I am walking away I look at her and have the same lump in my throat as realise how lucky I am to have me and my loved ones to have been blessed with all the gifts and not having to work against all odds……

A few days later as we are driving in the car, my daughter looks out of the window and pointing to a man standing at the side of the road says

Papa, why is that man acting funnily.

I looked around and very simply tell her – sweetheart he’s not acting funny, it’s just that he can’t see with his eyes but he sees with his hands…..