Saturday, August 2, 2008

Father, dear Father

A newspaper article from the Hindu. A young boy, writes a letter in reply to the one he has received from his father.

Dear Papa,

This is in answer to your letter about my transgression. Yes, my first rank slipped to the second. You advise that I should think before answering the papers. Yes, the operating work ‘think’ did make me reflect and these are the results of those reflections.

Father, we’ve never really been close and I can’t rightly say you’ve been my friend, philosopher, guide, etc. Yet I would like you to be aware of my thoughts. They are very important to me. You are highly educated and you provide very well for the family. But in your departmental store, do you apply Pythagoras’ Theorem or Newton’s Law of Gravity? For that matter, does your doctor friend? Or your lawyer brother?

Papa, my grandfather speaks of a carefree and beautiful childhood. Of days spent in plucking mangoes and guavas from their orchards, of picnics on the banks of the river where the men cooked mouth-watering food, of playing marbles and gilli danda. From his talk, it seems, studies were and ancillary subject: and living and experiencing, the major subject. Father, is he fibbing? Or is it possible that the world has turned topsy turvy in just about 70 years?

Papa, my grandmother is semi-literate. Yet she is at peace with her pots, pans, her flowers and garden, her Bhagvad Gita and scriptures. My mother, highly qualified, is highly strung, tense and nervous. Do you think literacy makes us, restless afraid and frustrated?

Oh Papa, last week, my rose plant almost died. Some pests. I asked my Biology teacher what I should do to save it. And she was cross. She said go aske the guy who keeps gardening things. He’ll tell you. We learn about pesticides but we do not know how to use them. Oh father, it matters not to me why the apple does not fall upwards, nor do I care what Archimedes did. What matters to me is that my rose plants remain healthy; when there is a fuse in my house I should know how to do something about it. I should know how to make a desk for myself from my carpenter’s tools. Instead I learn about hypotenuse, relational square roots…

Papa, once I asked my grandmother how she got to be so wise. Do you know what she said? By living and experiencing. And she laughed as though I had asked something which was so obvious. Are we living Papa? Or is life by-passing us? What I fear is that if I were to meet Newton face to face, I would fail to recognize him, so busy am I learning about him! You know, just like that boy, Vinu, in that award winning film. He prattles on – “the Hibiscus is red” – a hundred times, but in his book, he colours it yellow. Are we missing out on the essence of life?

Anyway Papa, do you know where I lost that quarter mark that brought about my fall? It was a fill – in – the blanks. I held that I was invited to tea and my teacher was adamant that he was invited for tea. A matter of grammar. And Papa, if he says George Bush is the President of India, it will have to be so. If he says the earth is flat, it will be, it will be, my Papa. At least on my answer papers. My first rank is at stake, you see. Still, my dearest Papa, I shall keep your advice in mind and try not to lose any quarter marks.

As always,

Yours ever obedient son,

P.S. Your eyes will not see this anguished plea, my father. This was only to lighten my over-burdened heart. It is not all arteries and muscle. It feels too.

This article inspired me alot.