Monday, July 4, 2011

Letter to My Little Girl...

My dear Chinku,

This is how I called you from the time you were a toddler holding my fingers and learning to walk.  I know you no longer allow me to call you so in front of others, for now you are a grown up independent little teen.  Yet, to me calling you makes me rejoice the motherhood I enjoy in life because of you.   Today I woke up with this letter in mind, a train of thoughts with a struggle between the Past that I need to keep you informed and the dream of future that I need to share with you.  

You may ask, amma, why here?  I know Manasi would hate this post as she never wanted my life to be a open book, and she is the one stopped me to share my story to anyone.   But today, I realize that this story of mine, including you is a  story of millions of middle class mothers, troubled wives, desperate parents, and challenged professions and of course of all those wonderful women who outgrow the human struggles. 

This story of (y)our past is filled with the story and memories of your childhood.  Today, I am called the most liberal parent, responsible adult and a very controlling mom.  There is a great contradiction between being called liberal and controlling.   But I keep telling you that Liberty is the biggest Responsibility.  But why do I teach you this always.   You will understand as you read further.

Aishu,  I am very happy that you hardly remember anything of the first 7 years of your life.  I am glad to make you know the past., for history is the biggest teacher to you.  To us this journey so far is the most precious one to rejoice and look forward to the future.  Here I have a daughter is multi-talented, multi-cultured, multi-language speaker, and a girl making best of both worlds, both the roots and values of India, and the best and innovative west.   I am also glad that you are making a right blend of both and I am so confident that you would not let me down any day.   Mistakes do happen and we learn from it.  But as long as you don't repeat them, I am the happiest mom you could see.

This story is all about a most mis-matching marriage of your parents,  diversified with the states we were born, the languages we learnt, the aspirations we built, the difference we  had and will have for life.  Yet, not longing for a perfection in life, we have learned to respect the limitations of each other in life and hence you see today is a most understanding parents you can have.   We have not tried to correct each other's flaws, instead we learned to realign and make a common way to survival.  Today you are a student in West and many of your classmates are unfortunate to come from broken families.  It is not the fault of any parent, it is only a lesson in life they missed, that compromising is not giving up.  It is actually making it the most of any situation.  This world would be a free place without war and fear, struggle and terrorism only when we learn this basic lesson from our households.  I am sure you will agree to what i said here.

It was in the first week of my marriage that I decided that I need you in life.  This thought came to me when I sat for 4 hours in the clinic of Dr.Rudhran, waiting to meet and counsel and give the confidence to my man who is just a week old as a husband that life is all going to be normal.  I was just out of college, hardly 20 years old, and I know I have two options.  One to run away from there and then.  Other was to face it all.   The second decision undoubtedly was very easy to make, but the toughest to execute, for it is a relationship for life time.   All I asked Dr. R that day was whether my husband's illness is genetic.  Dr R looked straight into my eyes and said NO.  That day I know I am having you, for I don't want you to suffer what ever fear he was being going through.   270/90 was the toughest part of our life to deal with  another friend we have not seen, heard or can manage., but we slowly learned to cope with this unknown invisible stranger and put him or her to rest peacefully.    Today we are just 3 and happy to have it that way.

This stranger whom we laid to rest was not letting your dad have a peaceful job and perfect married life.  I had to first figure out a way to manage him than your dad.  I learned that fighting the thought within me is meaningless, and I need to accept the reality.   The acceptance of the situation is the biggest challenge for a young woman and once you realize the problem and know its rootcause, you can very easily aim your mind at solutions.   Am I not doing this at work today?  This was taught to me again in PMP, but this was a lesson that I learnt very early in life.   Every problem will have a solution.      Very sooner, you dad did not had the need to hide his old prescriptions and medications.  He was free to share his feelings, and fears and now that we are two to deal with it, we had all the strength to fight it bravely.  

I had the need to fight strange situations both in and out of the home.   I realized that all I have with me is my education.   If education taught me anything so far in life, let me put it to best use.  I started looking for work.  You were just 6 months old when I first left you sleeping the cradle and went back to work.  The day was the toughest.  I did not have the luxury of cell phones or personal phone at work.  But I used to somehow call and check that you took you regular feeds and is free from any pain or inconvenicne.  Sooner I set my timely calls spanning for a couple of minutes and this time setter is still there in my outlook even today.  Just to call you for 2 minutes at the time I know you are back from school.  The feeling that you reached home safe,  had your meal at school, and did not have a bad day., and giving you a chance to share all that happened in the day before you forget is the practice I would continue till you are a adult, later you may hate giving me this updates :-)

Amma, why are you writing all this? Don't I know this?  I can hear you asking me.  Yes baby, I know, but who ever forgets those moments that made their life, believe me,  the fire to continue and crave for success will be gone.  Hence I don't want you not know any of these.     Have we not overcome things that millions of people in India suffer even today?    Violence, illness, poverty,  fear and anxiety, eve-teasing in buses, wrong intention of men around,  unkind people around,  arrogance and selfishness,  helplessness and thoughtlessness of our own people is all that we have overcome to make this far.   Baby, today , we have the best of our self-respect, self-reliance, gratitude to family and friends who helped us, courage, strength to help others, heart to give it back to society,  and above all a very very happy family.   However, all this was not made in a day.  It had years of hard work, will power, strong determination, to win over failures, a fire to succeed.  We always had the thought to prove to people who thought that we would fail as a family, that we not going to let this life go off our hands.  

Just after few months, when I went to Dr Rekha's clinic to have the first ultrasound, I heard your heart beat....It was the best moment of my life.   I can imagine the butterflies flying all inside me making me feel that I am going to have the most precious gift of god.     Sooner the day you were born, I touched you in the morning, a pink bundle of joy.  I cried.  My mom was shocked to see my reaction.  I told her that she don't know what this little pink bundle would mean to me in life.   She is going to be my strength, my friend, my co-mate to deal with my life the way I want.  I know today, that I was not at all wrong.

You just started to walk...... before your first birthday.  I know I have to celebrate the day.  My friends in Aptech raised to the occasion and so does the family.  They all shared money to buy each thing we need for the party.  Including for the cake, the dress, the food, and the pictures.  Remember, those were the days we didn't have the digital cameras.   Finally in all my anxiety, I forgot to put the Jamun on the Mickey's face on the cake that was supposed to be its nose!    I still look at the pics and laugh to myself...crazy mom!

Your first words were Thata and Amma,,,,, I used to kiss every time you called me.   I did not have cameras to click the kodak moments of life, as you started to grow as my little angel.    Nor did we had the resources to give you everything that we wanted to give.   I could not afford beautiful dresses and precious little toys.  But I know I could compensate you with loads and loads of hugs and kisses.   I used to look at you as you sleep on my lap and making my tummy a pillow pet, and dream so many things for you.  Dreams that I always dream for you.  Dreams that dont let me sleep even today.

I used to shuttle between west mambalam and Tambaram, and I used to buy the tirupur baniyan dresses and the rubber toys from the road side shops near tambaram railway station.   In what ever you were dressed, you used to look like a little doll.   You used to happily play with the rabit on the tortoise and throw every little toy once you played with it.   You used to get bored with the toys very fast., and wanted new one's every now and then.  To me the roadside toy shop had been a rescue for sure.   Not only I was able to make your childhood colorful and joyful and I didnt have or could spend more on the things you wanted to change. 

Believe me you still like that even today.   Barbie dolls, Dora Mania, Miley Cyrus Hannah Montana fever, Micheal Jackson and Johnas Brothers to today's Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, your fantasies and favorites keep changing with the times and years......and now the fever of Ram is making me smile to myself, for I know you are doing the right things at right age, and I also know that you would outgrow this film star craze also with the time!    As long as you do nothing to an extreme, and learn to welcome change and go by the rhythm of life, I have no worries.

Aptech Asset got closed and I moved to Dishnet call center.  You used to wait till I come back from my odd shifts.   The work in the joint family squeezed me domestically, and your dad's fantasy of changing jobs, stressed me out really.  That was the time I decided I need to do something.  I started to do my MBA.  I used to put you to sleep on my lap and keep writing my IGNOU's never ending assignment.  63 papers to submit, 3 assignment for the 21 course work to do....with a odd shift job...I know I have to realign....Thanks to Mr Bharath, who extended my probation and gave me a reason to quit dishnet and there came Manmar.

My Manmar days were the best.... can you imagine that Manmar building that stands today on Natesan road, in Mylapore now as Mediscan used to be the biggest building even till 2003...and there was a big dumping yard for waste management just opposite to it.    Onyx used to come and happily dump the city's garbage there and Dhanalaxmi wines used to be bus stop opposite to it...Every day we used to hear several funerals passing by.....Today the dumping yard is the foundation for the Chennai City Centre and very place ...Can you imagine how the place that once had a wine shop is now a home for America's favorite brands?   The whole place is changed for good.   I used to shuttle to office in 12G....this bus is still plying there...but with several people going to a different destination now.....This is the most happening place in Chennai today.    I think even our lives transformed with these changes that happened to this place..... irony!

I made friends for lifetime who loved seeing you grow as a happy child. Raghu and I were always careful that none of our struggles should hinder your growth.   We never fought or cried in front of you.   Unfortunately, the glorious days of Manmar started to fade....from a highest IT tax payer in the state, Manmar battled the end with the deal of GE merger failing and ended up not paying few months salaries.  That made me take up a job in Bangalore with help of your god mother, my elder sister and that was the a turning point. 

For Raghu after almost pleading Mr Mahalingam of Telekonnectors went off to work in Delhi, I left you behind with your grandparents and headed to Bangalore.  Dreadful times when every weekend I shutttled after my london shift that ended at 10 pm, to the Majestic to take the last bus at 12 in the night to Vellore...from Vellore take a bus to Chennai and reach at 9 am, and you used to sit with a mug of water and brush waiting in the front yard waiting for me.    Remembering this makes me even feel bad today....but happy we did cross it....Today, Mr Mahalingam' s wife Latha is a colleague to me in Rotary Inner Wheel....and I just smile at life's vicious circle!  I used to preserve the 23 weeks tickets thinking i will make it to  Limca records for shuttling every week between Bgl to Chennai for 4 months....

Thanks to Murali uncle, the ordeal ended as I found the job in ABN towards the end of 2003.....Raghu also joined at the beginning of 2004..........but less we did realize that we will have fun of challenges in 2004..... The mysterious stupid fire accident that happened in our bedroom aiming to kill you and me, and Raghu saving us was in one way an end to our struggles.   Why it happened, who did it and what was the motive are few questions that we don't need to ask anymore baby...Who ever did it , am sure will not miss god's eyes and punishment!

Staying in hotel as we fought the police investigation and leaving you again in Bangalore with your pedamma for a year, till I settle down with the newly emerged challenges of life, I know I am not going to look back sweet heart!.   Your dreams were the reason how we crossed all this.   We left our home that we had so much of pride to be part of ...the hieress to the AK Sekar legacy,  and we decided to be on our own....Independent and Self-Reliant....how much of this change gave us the courage to fight our own battles of poverty, fear, and rebuilding the life all again from the beginning..During all these times, 2 wonderful men stood beside me...my brother in laws....and a great friend, Vk.  Had it not been for their support and encouragement I dont know how it would have been.  

Gratitude is a small word if we forget the courage that your ammama and pedamma gave us when were completely ruined by the people whom we believed as ours.   Baby, trust me, dont take any body by their face value and dont ever build your emotions unless you know the people fully.   People who stand by you in tough times, are the people real in your life.  It is not great having 1000 friends on facebook, but having 10 good friends who would run to you when you are in trouble makes you life.   Remember dearie, , when Floyd uncle died, he had 1400 friends on FB, but it was just 6 of us who stood by his bed when he was gone.    Learn to stand by your friends at all times.  

Be a good friend for friends to respond to you when you need them.  Have few friends but friends for life time.  You will meet thousands of people in this journey called life, but all of them are only associates....just like friends we make in trains, under the trees in the parks, silent spectators in the library etc etc.... Real friends are those who know to accept you as you are.   There will be no ego, no back biting and the friendship will stay the same even if you meet them after years.    There will not be big time to catch up with life.... Learn to make new friends always but always remember to make few best friends for life!

Today,  I know you are still not clear on what you want to become.  Trust me, this is just ok.  You will become what you are destined to become.  God would have already made plans for you...and I am sure he would had the best plan.   You will rock this world darling.  I would not tell you not to look back, look back but learn from it.... Stay grounded always...it is very important to stay composed and balanced at all times.  Don't get agitated when things go wrong....always  there will be two ways to make any thing,...be it a decision, solution or plan...Just follow your heart and think with your mind in calmness.  I am sure you will choose the right path always.

Aishu, don't stop dreaming dear.  Dont stop hard work, being strongly determined and focused in what ever you do.  Do with truthfulness, sincerity and dedication.  What ever you do for your best will succeed.  Live for yourself first...try to be normal teen, aspiring and gentle.  Be kind to animals and love them.  Grow plants and enjoy flowers....make time for things that are closer to your heart.   You know that amidst all the speed breakers we had it life, you mom never gave up making time for poetry, writing articles, participating in events or ignoring work.  Keep learning always.

You are born in the a most creative family on either side.  Remember your  great grandfather was a great Art director of the golden era of South Indian Cinema.... Remember you are part of the family of poets and writers.....let your creativity also grow...do what you are good at with whole heart and complete focus.  

I love your smile,  and keep smiling always my child.  The world will smile back at you.  Continue your passion for music and art.   Study Math and Science well for everything around us is filled with it in real sense.  Don't be judgemental of others at all...always learn to be kind just like you are today.    Have safe fun....and never do the same mistake twice.

You have been following both Hinduism and Christianity with ease and can sing both classical music and hymns with ease.  Remember Religion is only a path to reach God.  It can be any faith...but the essence of all religions is the same.  Be human.

To me the biggest gift that I can give is this learning.....I have learnt many things in a very hard way.  You don't need to do it., just learn from what you parents have learnt.    Remember education is very important to any child today.  I don't want you to get 100% any day, but remember what ever you learn in text books should make some meaning to you in life!  As long as you use your knowledge in the right way, I know you have got your 100% off the report cards!

From the grounds of a modest town school called st.theresa's your three moms have reached the IIMC and PMP's....and now is your turn to outgrow our little successes....and I know you will take the right decisions...for I know that you no longer wear the stuff I buy for you but pick the best ones' that you think is your age and time appropriate.    From the street dresses to choosing the best brands of the world, you have had the luxury of both worlds...world of struggle and world of luxury.   I am sure you will be strong to face anything in life dear!.

You had the opportunities to see the world and travel across the airports of Paris, Dubai, Chicago, Detroit, Washington and London and Los Angeles...and I will surely make your dream to go to Italy to see the curve of Earth from South of Italy one day.  Yet, given a chance, please go back to the Rural India and share your life with the people who are like us .....teach children, help adults who need help.    Dont forget the modest beginnings we had.   Dont hesitate to extend a helping hand to any friend in need.   

Living in Hollywood, you very well know that Style is only good for statements.   All that hype created as Western influence in India is not truth, but a media hype.   People here in West also have great moral values, they also have poverty and fears, struggles of old and elderly people,  churches struggling to survive, school drops out and kids waiting for help.   Las Vegas and New york is not whole of America.  America is also modest, down to earth, freedom loving nation.   Have we not celebrated Pat and Chuck's 60th Wedding Anniversary......have we not seen Donna and kids getting back to routine after a period of grief.... and keeping their dad's dreams in tact.   Take the best of this Western world and stay grounded to the values of our heritage and culture that is in built in  us.   Don't get influenced by anything that is not natural to you and your inner self.

Ok little girl,  I know I have troubled you with this letter alot putting philosophy to words.  But you will read this again when you are my age, and realise that every sentence written here is truth.  Every struggle is common and we need to overcome.   Baby, I only wish your life is filled with happiness always, joys to come and successes to share.  But remember the same time, life is never a bed of roses.  I am sure you will handle any thing that comes in your way in a most composed and decent way. 

You live for your dreams dear Chinku...and not for your mom's dreams.   Same time, dream good things and aspire the right things in the right way.  Never do and regret later for anything that would let your mom and dad down....

Love you baby,....more than myself.   And give me all strength  and support to welcome one little boy to our house as your brother sometime in future from a home in India....to cherish the memory of your little brother whom we could not have due to the circumstances a decade ago...and make some sense of our lives together.....

We are a happy family, we love each other, and you are our pranam!

---- Love, Amma.







4 comments:

Sarada said...

Uma

I dont know whether I can post a comment to such a personal and emotional lettter from a mother to a daughter, but I thouhgt that it is ok to leave a comment - no no no - not a comment - But my blessings to a daughter of a great woman. May God be with her all the time and make sure that she gets all the best things in life.
Uma Everytime I read your postings, you go high and high in my esteem. You are simply a Great Person, and I am so proud to have known you.

Umasree said...

Sarada akka,

Thank you so much for your blessings to my little girl. I am extremely proud of knowing you too.

Regards
Uma

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