Dear Mom and Dad

Dad died in an accident when I was about 6 years of age. I have been brought up by mom ever since, juggling job and raising me up. I am writing a letter to both of them.

 

Dear Mom,

This is a letter that you are not going to get to read, at least not for a long time. This is because I am not yet ready to discuss the contents with you in person. It’s not that we’ve not tried before, it’s specifically we’ve tried talking about it before. We feel so strongly about our own stances, which are mutually exclusive that things end up getting heated.

You’ve put in a lot of efforts, many of which are beyond what I would normally expect a parent to. In your defense, I can be a difficult  person to deal with at times. Add to that I come from an entirely different school of thought. I am highly liberal and open about what and who I want. I have always wanted to be defined by my choices, choices which usually lead me to be away from where I am born. Your choices have always been to stick to where you are. I have always been about what I want and you about what you have to.

You do things which you think that are in the long run good for me. Quite a bit of your life has been focused on to shape a future for me, and look out for me. Having done it for so long, it has been your default programming. Which is why I think that no matter how old I get, you will always want to have a protective watch out for me. Remember in an entirely different situation of our life; someone had once said that no matter how much good you want to do for someone, you cannot force good upon them. It has been nearly 15 years since I had heard that, and the idea of it has seeped into me. I cannot write over here the details of the circumstances in which they were said, and I apologize because in doing so I am withholding all that you had to go through with.

What I want to tell you is that I am headstrong about my choices. As much as I like to think that I am gifted in terms of my intellect, I tend to make correspondingly huger mistakes. Some mistakes which on account of repeated occurrences, may take me months to recover fully from. But what good is my own life, if I do not pave for it myself? Even if it means making it difficult. I understand your concern for me, but our opposing manners of thinking have contributed to making you a little bitter. I just hope that in the near future we come to a better understanding of each other, and better acceptance.

Love,
Hrishi.

 

Dear Dad,

Most of my memories with you have been pleasant. The times you got me chocolates, or took me to the park to play on the slides or let me choose the cookies that a spot of jam on them. Since the hospital you worked at was kilometers away from home, I could only get to spend weekends with you. When it came to parenting, you were always the easy parent while mother did most of the disciplining. I guess this is why I would want to more spend time with you. I know realize that as much as it was fun spending time with you, I needed to be guided in the manner mom did. Especially if it required strict parenting.

 

I remember that there were times when I took your easy attitude for granted, and was very unruly with you. Given that we did spend so little time together, I am sorry for that. Just before you died, you had quit your job to setup your own clinic near home. However that would not come to be, and the accident happened. To be honest, for quite a lot of time mom never let me feel that I had a parent short. She cared and provided in a manner that all my needs and quite a number of my wants were taken for.

Given that I was never overly attached to you, I didn’t miss you much. Mom did, for you were her husband. While her job and savings ensured that we didn’t miss a providing family member, your absence lead to other problems. Now that we were ‘alone’, your brothers continued to treat us in the second hand manner that they did. They graduated from that to taking a large amount of what was rightfully mom’s and belonged to us. You could have had the sense to warn her about the kind of dogs your family is.

Some time ago, when I was going through a difficult time I ended up staring at your picture in the house and a line from Harry Potter came to mind to me: “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.” The fact that a lot of this could have been different had you not died, makes me feel a little bitter. Sometimes I think how things could have different had mom had someone else in the family apart from me. If there would have been someone else to be there for her, would I have been able to feel freer? I guess it does sound incredibly selfish, but it is my manner of feeling pity on the living.

Love,

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

The irony of this letter doesn’t escape me. I choose not to share what I have written with mom because of my belief that we have tried too much of it already, and failed. I cannot share it dad, because quite simply he isn’t there anymore. When I speak to friends about their parents, their feelings are so much different than mine. D tells me how she feels happiest and safest with her head in her mum’s lap, while another friend tells me how he looks up to the advice his dad gives him. It is not that I don’t remember my happy times with you. I remember how we used play carom on the weekends, and dad would nudge one of my discs into the holes so that I would win. I remember how mum would make ice cream and slush for me when summers would come, so that I wouldn’t fall sick from eating some of the road side stuff. I remember dad holding me down, when I was kicking another doctor, dad had taken me to when I had had jaundice, and he had brought out the injection. The two of you would buy me a toy gun that made rattling noises to cheer me up. I even remember the hours mom would put in to make sweaters for me, or how she took care of me during the vacations I got sick.

But more than that, I do remember the times either of you got angry at me. The times when I was mad with either of you, and as I grew up the times, I get frustrated with mom. Kids like to cuddle up and sleep with parents, finding comfort in their presence. I have always found solace in being away instead. Mom remembers how I would roll away to the side of the bed when I would get sleepy, while other kids would roll to their parents embrace.

I guess this is how we are.

 

 

Written for Day 3 of the 30 Days 30 letters prompt: A letter to your parent(s).

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How I came to love reading

Five years of my schooling life were spent in Bombay at my uncle’s, so that I could get a better education in Bombay. There were other reasons too, but that is for another blog. I was put up in St. Gregorios High School, and those are one of my most memorable times I have had. One of the two life changing classes that I had over there was Library. Like all other subjects, we had a ‘Library’ class once per week. During this period we were to sit in the library, and return the book we had previously issued so that another one of our choice could be issued to us. Quite simple actually.

I was indifferent to reading books before that, and didn’t bother much except for the text books or the mandatory book we had to issue every week. Our librarian saw this, and I will be ever so thankful that she started recommending books. It started with ‘Great Illustrated Classics’, which are classic books like Oliver Twist, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Frankenstein, Black Beauty, Alice in wonderland and so on. These have a large font print one side and an illustration on the other. They soon had my attention. Once I had exhausted the entire series, I was told to select other books myself. When our names were called, we were encouraged to spend time in front of the books, read their jackets and pick one that we liked.

As we got into higher classes (standard 6 and above, I think) the books we could choose from increased to include Goosebumps, and Shivers. They were such a wonderful read. However the incident that made me passionate about reading took place soon. Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were popular in our school, and the library had a huge collection. Generally boys read Hardy Boys, and girls read Nancy Drew. As part of a bet I had to take up Nancy Drew. The librarian saw my sheepish look when I asked for a Nancy Drew, and asked me what was going on. When I explained, she just laughed and told me that for a good book, it doesn’t matter if the characters were male or female. She put me at ease and I started with ‘Nancy Drew and the secret of the slumber party’. I was hooked. I was now issuing books by the day instead of the regular weekly Library period. Every day, I would come back early from the evening games and finish my studies so that I could read Nancy Drew. The next day I would finish lunch quickly so that I could exchange the book for another.

And then Harry Potter happened. My friends were already into it. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which is book 3 of the series was already out. I started with that, worked back to book 1 and then read the lot in sequence. I was hooked. We would spend our day discussing the book, challenging each other with trivia questions, or who could remember more spells. Newspapers were hounded for any news of the release dates of the next book. Since the school library would get limited copies of the book, we had a waiting list which went across classes. The list was public, and it was common knowledge as to who was reading the book and the next person in waiting would be after them to read it faster. We were playing a Harry Potter Trivia session in the bus, when we had gone to Bangalore for an interschool event. (We had gone by train, and the bus was for travel within Bangalore.) The principal happened to hear us go at it, and told us that if read our syllabus books with even fifth of this much devotion we would all be getting full marks.

We were encouraged to write reviews for the books we read, and the better of the lot were put up in the bulletin board. It was not an official contest or event, but we felt a pang of pride if our review was put up on the library bulletin board. We had classes only weekdays, but were allowed to come to the school library and read periodicals, Nat Geo, encyclopedias and other books that were not issued to be taken home.

As I grew up, many people told me that Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are two books which are a must read. When I asked them why, nobody could give me a satisfactory answer but just said that these were mind blowing books. Why and how the books did blew their minds, they didn’t know. Their minds were blown because they were told that was the reaction they were supposed to have. When I was doing my internship at General Motors (where I work now), my mentor told me that I remind him of Howard Roark. When I asked who, he told me about the Fountainhead and offered to loan me his copy. I said no. With the limited pocket money I had, I purchased a second hand copy of it for myself.

Reading that book for the first time had been an interesting experience. There were times I was nodding in agreement at what I read, there were lines which I had said myself. Same in essence, and a little different in the choice of word. There were also things that I only hoped I had the courage to do should the time came. Quite naturally Ayn Rand had my interest and I read Atlas Shrugged as well. It was an experience similar to Fountainhead, only more profound. Soon I had a job, so I ended up with all of her books that I could find. If you do want to read her fiction works, then read them in order of Anthem, We the living, Fountainhead, and finally Atlas Shrugged. It makes for an interesting study in not only the objectivist philosophy, but also in Rand as a writer. With each book you can see how her characters evolve, how the plot has more depth, and how the plot arcs reach out and meet each other.

Sometime last year, I was re-reading Atlas Shrugged. I had a strong reaction and felt like hurling the book across the room. I was going through a particularly difficult time, and was reading how the characters were dealing with their own lives in the book. Part of me thought that how could they manage to hold through through much tougher things when they only had themselves. The idea that they’re fictional characters and not real also came to me, at which I was about to throw the book. However I also thought that it was not who I was, and the characters were the kind I always wanted to be. Even before I had read or even knew of the book. Better sense prevailed.

As practice, we never called the librarian in school by name or as a librarian. She was to be conferred with as much respect as we gave our class teachers. Which is why we addressed her as ‘Ma’am’. In retrospect she has taught me as much, if not more, as any other teacher I have ever had. It is she who gave me the love for reading.

Written for the Write Tribe: Festival of words 2, Day 3 prompt: Books

Remembrance

Which is the earliest memory that you have? Which is the clearest memory that you have? Which is the memory that moves you to tears, or manages to bring happiness? While you may or may not agree that these questions are important, you will agree that you can answer them. All of us have memories. Memory is the act of storing and retrieving information. This information can be what we have read, heard, seen, or gone through. It could something emotional like the time spent with a loved one, or something like the process of riding a bike. In each case, memory is important.

No matter how old you grow, certain aspects of your life get etched in your memory. The highs and the lows, the moments of joy and sorrow. The more intensely you feel something, the more likely you’re going to remember it down the line. I remember most of the lows, and some of the highs.

I remember clearly when either of my parents have been angry at me, or scolded me. I remember when I first fiddled with my dad’s shaving blade and bled after I cut my finger. I remember an accident I was in as a kid, when I had a collision with a scooter after I let go of dad’s hand to run across the road. I remember the color the scooter, and how I was bleeding with blood running from head onto my shoulders. I was scared that mom might freak out, and had to be cajoled by dad to come with him. He was a doctor and wanted to take care. I remember getting jaundice and when my parents took me another doctor, I kicked him and they had to hold me down because I was scared of injections. I remember the toy gun they got me after I got well. These are just the memories of before I was even 6 years old.

There are clear memories of other times which were not joyful or sad, but made me feel a strong reaction. I was at my uncle’s and was to change into my pyjamas. Instead of have mom change me (I was less than 4), I tried to do it myself and ended up with both feet in one leg sleeve of the PJ and the other as a tail. I had to hop my way into another room to get mom to free me. I remember playing and dancing in the class with a girl while the class teacher had been called down, and the punishment that followed. A particularly strong and clear memory is that of a class in which we were taught about honesty, and how it is the best policy. Someone passed a joke at another and a bunch of us laughed. The teacher, who had been writing something on the board turned around and asked who cracked the joke. Then when she asked who laughed along, I found myself raising my hand. I was promptly sent to stand out of class. I remember clearly how I felt, and what I had learnt.

Which is why I like to associate memory with experiences. I am a big Harry Potter fan. I started reading the books however after Azkaban had come out, and my class mates were raving about it. Curiosity got the better of me, and I read the book. Yes, the third book was read first, and then the second and finally the first. It was such a wonderful experience. I remember taking up my entire weekend reading them in order of release then. While mom later purchased books 1-4 (4th I had read after issuing from the school library, there is a story for that sometime later), I started to pre-book my copy of books 5-7. I still remember how I left at 6 in the morning on the day of Half-Blood Prince came out, so that I could catch the first bus. I reached the bookstore (Crossword at Mithakali, Ahmedabad) and found a small bunch of other fans like me. We spent the time discussing our favorite moments from the previous books, and speculating what would happen in this book.

I have left out some of my most memorable moments, and could go at lengths about more memories but I would like to sum up with this quite apropos quote by Subject 16 from Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.

“What is a man but the sum of his memories? We are the stories we live! The tales we tell ourselves!”

Written for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – 2. Day 1 prompt: Memory/Memories

The tattoo that I have, and the ones I want

I had been meaning to get a tattoo ever since I had started college. I had a long break of about 5 months before college during which I spent a lot of time in libraries, and with the TV. I would read upon things that would catch my eye in some TV serial or movies. One of the things that I read about was tattoos. The idea of it still appeals to me. It is something of your own choice that stays on you forever. Yes, we can get them removed now but I didn’t know of it back then. A tattoo would be something that is not only of my choice but will have something that is unique to me.

Back then I didn’t have enough money to get one as my most of my allowance would be spent on movies and internet. The cost of getting a tattoo done was relatively high as well. Back then a small time tattoo parlor would charge anything upwards of 600 INR per square inch, and my monthly allowance was 500 INR of which I wouldn’t save more than 100 by month’s end. I had kept some designs in my diary that I would like to use. I was tempted by Chinese characters due to some of the dubbed Chinese/Japanese kung fu / martial arts shows that would come on TV that I was a fan of. But since I can’t read the script, I gave up on the idea.

Once I started working, I had enough money to get one done. I asked around for some parlors in my city and zeroed in on Relic Tattoos. After some discussion with him, I shared my design with him, and some fine tuning and discussions later we were ready to go. I was slightly worried about the amount of pain that would be a part of this. I made a note of  pre-tattoo requirements he had told me. When we finally started, I was at ease because asked me to make a playlist of my favorite songs and I closed my eyes. There was a small sting that I initially felt, but I got curios and wanted to see first hand how it is done. It was only a second before I became oblivious to any pain. This is what I finally got.

 alphaomegainftat

The idea behind this was to meld the symbols of Alpha, Omega and Infinity. If you read upon them, many religious texts about God will have a variation of “I am the beginning, I am the end”. This was my take upon this statement. Alpha and Omega have been used to signify the start and end, and infinity is used for the infinite and boundless. This tattoo on my wrist means to me that for all my work, actions and tasks, I am the person who controls when and how to start, and to end. The infinity is for the infinite potential I believe I have in me.

I mean to get more tattoos down the line as well. The ones that I want are:

Symbol_nikis_tattoo

This the tattoo of ‘The Symbol’ which Jessica Sanders has in the TV series Heroes (of which I am big fan of). The symbol is combination of two characters sai (才) for great talent and yo (与) for godsend. This can also mean someone bestowed with great talent or genius. This tattoo would be on my shoulder blade like the character has

hptat

I also want to get one based on the Harry Potter Series. The symbol in the center is that of the Deathly Hallows. The three symbols on the outside are for the Golden Trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione. The Lightning symbol is for Harry (for his scar), the Crown for Ron (“Weasley is our King!” and for his ability at chess) and the Flame for Hermione (People use an electric bulb to signify that she is the brightest with of her age, but I used a flame symbol for the flames she easily conjures and as a witch it makes a better symbol than a bulb). This character would be on my left arm where the death eaters in the series have the Dark Mark tattooed.

In the long run, if I get married and have kids then I will get a family tree tattooed on my chest which will the names of my parents, my wife, me and eventually kids. The image that I have in my mind is to have a landscape with my parents’ name in the soil, my wife and me as fruit bearing trees and the kids as birds in a nest.

Based on the prompt ‘Daily Prompt: Tattoo…. You?‘ by The Daily Post