Letter to my unborn daughter
The only people certain about parenting are those who have no children - not sure who
How happy I am to write to you today! I've got some things to say. I know you're "not a baby anymore", so here I am, treating you like a grown up. We can speak like two adults, alwa? I hope these things matter to you as much as they do to me. This isn't a lecture, I promise.
Please sit with a cuppa and read this when you can.
If I haven't taught you till now – leading by example – that you must live life on your own terms, that you need not be overly compliant with what anybody wants you to feel, think, say or do then I haven't done well as a father.
'Anybody' includes me. That doesn't mean I want you to stop being agreeable or generous. It means that you are to decide what is best for you.
And it also doesn't mean you go crazy and listen to that besur music of yours, all day.
Ever since she made that remark, you seem to be upset with Nusrat aunty and you didn't hang out with us, when she was here last Tuesday. I noticed that. I hope you don't bother with what Nusrat tells us, about you 'hanging out with boys'.
I trust you and I know that you will tell me if there's anything that needs to be told. Nusrat aunty let Mehul chacha fondle her breasts in our kitchen, and that is none of your (our) business; likewise, who you enjoy going to a concert with, isn't a family friend's business. I'm happy you already know that (and I'm sorry if you didn't want to know that tiny detail).
I don't believe that you will ever tell me a significant lie. I can't remember telling one to Ajobaba or Ajji myself. I don't mean that as a 'badge of honour', I say it matter of factly. It is so easy to be honest. You're not lost keeping track of what you tell whom. Besides, very few things matter as much as honesty and integrity, least of all material possessions.
If you decide to smoke cigarettes, even after I've told you how I struggled with the habit, it will break my heart and I won't know what to do. I won't be ok with it. But I won't be able to stop you, just like Ajobaba couldn't stop me. I used to think of how sad it made him, every time I lit up a ciggie by myself. But that didn't stop me. Nicotine is too strong a drug and it overrides guilt of any kind. I hope you don't hang out with people who think you're boring for loving your lungs and life. Please don't rely on drugs, certainly not when life is only beginning.
I'm sorry I didn't save enough money to put you in that fancy college you wanted to go to. I didn't plan my finances that far, and that may have been irresponsible of me, but I would like to think I made up for it in other ways, via homeschooling, our travels and farm camps (uh oh! does that make my case worse?!).
In fact, I hope you don't go to college unless you want to fix someone's broken arm or enter a courtroom to fight a case or for something similar, where you need a certificate. The only legitimate certificate, is the one which is a requirement to practice a profession legally. And there are very few of those.
For every other kind of learning and peer group, you know to look towards the internet. I don't have to tell you that. I made some of my best friends there. (And hey my glasses don't connect to the wifi just as I approach your mango tree. What's up with that?)
I'm not sorry you feel embarrassed that we've had the same old rickety car for years. If anything, I love picking you up in front of your friends and watch you go red. You are welcome that we have a car.
Your body, your rules: I don't know if someone from my generation came up with that or the hippies did. I believe in it. You decide what you do with your body and how you treat it. That said, your mind can age exponentially but the body ages linearly. The two may not always be in tandem– I don't know what I'm talking about. So please wait to get that tattoo or piercing? Till 30? ok 25? 23.5?!
I know you love to grow your own food and you eat nothing that comes out of a packet. I'm proud of you for that. I hope you continue staying in touch with the earth but please don't turn into a fuss pot. Vada Pav cannot always be healthy. You just eat it. You're fine. And it's delicious.
Have as much sex as you like with whoever you like and however you like to. Sorry I dropped it like that. It's not that big of a deal. But first, learn everything about consent and contraception. Getting naked with another person is not dirty. I love you. Don't be foolish.
And don't get pregnant. If you do, I will be upset. Because you cannot rear a child when you are in need of our care and nurturing, yourself. When you are older, I won't be writing you such emails, and you will meet someone you like and things will progress naturally (I will still be writing you such emails when you are older.)
Be wary of the advice from Millenials. I know you already are. We squandered our life on social media – it was a thing back then – looking at the lives of others, scrolling endlessly, feeling miserable. And we continue to be miserable because we are trying to find ways to dispense our anger, of having lost so many years. Half of our lives have been spent staring at screens. But that also helped make internet into the flourishing organism it is today.
And show some love to old people. I know Boomers can be especially annoying. They are the vestiges of who we were and where we came from. They aren't around for long. They deserve respect, even if their terrible ideas don't.
You will fall in and out of love. Don't break someone's trust, certainly not the trust you have for yourself.
If you are going to have multiple partners, I hope you are fully aware of your choices. It will be odd when the three of you (no more!!!) turn up for Ukadhandi on festival day. But teach me how to accept that. I promise I will try to learn. We will have a great meal, regardless.
If you identify with a different gender or want to be called by a different pronoun, I would be lying if I said I fully understood that. I don't. But just because I don't understand something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I accept you for who you are and that is a favour I do to me, not you.
How I accept you is my problem, you can certainly help me and make it easier for me. I will always love you for who you are.
My parents and sister love you dearly, you know that. If any one of them is not nice to you or doesn't treat you well or passes a snide comment about your weight, you are not obligated to be pally with them. They will have to apologise to you.
The reverse is equally true, if you are disrespectful to them for something innocuous, we will take a special train to go say our sorries. And I will pack seven meals for the twelve hour journey and you will be annoyed.
If you ever feel like hurting yourself and you don't tell me, it will crush my soul.
And if someone ever slaps you and you clobber him numb, please know that I would be absolutely ok with that. Try using pepper spray first, in the future. And don't give him a second chance, ever. What I would not be ok with, is if you went back to him because he makes you feel 'ga ga goo goo'. Not experiencing ga ga goo goo ever again is way better than letting a scum breathe the same air as you, forget letting him touch you.
You don't have to get married if you don't want to. You don't need to get married to bear a child. I only hope you experience love and find a way to make life work in the legal system you live in.
And for god's sake, my honour is not your responsibility. My honour is not so fragile that it will crumble, if you like girls 'instead' of boys. And it is a bit rich to assume your actions have that kind of a bearing on things. I have a life and it is my own.
Tongues will wag forever. Some people don't know what to do with themselves. They don't have hobbies, interests or a purpose. They don't know who they are and they themselves don't care to find out.
I hope you make something of yourself and earn an honest living.
All I want of you is that you soar as high as you can and be a lively spirit.
Please practise music regularly (not just the four-chord garbage you've taken a disastrous liking to)
Write to Mimi often, he loves hearing from you and he's your only cousin.
Why am I not telling all this to you in person you ask?
Love you always,
P.S. Mom says hi.