Sunday October 14, 2012
Home truths for a nephew
By LEKHA SANKARAN
HAPPY Birthday, Chops! A year has gone by since you didnít want to come out to say hello until you were good and ready. Yes, Raivath, you showed from the very start that you would do things on your own terms, or not at all.
I have no doubt that you have a million ideas churning and whirring in that mind of yours to get you exactly where you want to go, but here are a few from your aunt to start you along your long journey. Donít take them as the absolute truth. Try them out, augment them and decide when and at which stage of your life they will suit you most.
There is no substitute for hard work. Today, your biggest challenge may be taking those first few steps and not falling on your cushioned backside. In a few years, maybe, it will be trying to get on a football team. After that, perhaps working a job you have always wanted.
Nothing except pure grit and hard work will get you where you want to be. Trying and failing Ė thatís a good way to start. With every failure, there must come improvement. Try, as far as possible, to surround yourself with successful people and observe and learn what you can from them. A truly successful person will not attribute his success to luck. He will tell you that yes, it was a bit of luck, but mostly it was bloody hard work because nothing worth having ever comes easy.
Strive for knowledge, always. It is never too early or too late to learn something new. Your mind is the greatest and most powerful tool you will ever possess, and you must, at every opportunity, enrich it. A useful skill to learn is to simplify. Your Achichan is a person who has turned the process of simplification into nothing short of an art form. He could show you the shape of India with his middle and forefinger, or while Bad Company is blasting through his car speakers, explain to you the entire history of the British Empire.
Read, be it factual or fictional. I will never forget the day when your granduncle Vasu, whom I have come to believe is a connoisseur of all things literary, told me that my imagination is the one thing in the world that is mine and mine alone. Itís true. Never underestimate the power of a really good and well-told story. You will be surprised at how they can impress people and truly, you just donít know who that next person you were meant to meet is going to be.
I feel there is just so much you ought to know. Will I be able to tell you all of it here? No. But as Iíve started you off with the above, I will tell you the other things succinctly.
This world owes you nothing. Whilst people like your parents, grandparents and I have adored you from the time you were the size of a grape seed, no one else on Godís green earth is here to do you any favours. As such, go about your business, try your best not to deceive and cheat or step on anyoneís toes. Make your world one where people will be happy to be acquainted with you.
Life is hard Ė you donít always get what you want. Even though I was there literally from the moment your parents knew of your existence, I was the very last person to see you, hours and hours after you were born. Not through any choice of my own, but thatís just it. There are forces beyond your comprehension at work and a lot of the time they can knock you senseless.
Those you think are your closest friends may betray you; you will lose out on things to people who are less deserving; people die before their time. Itís exactly these things that will show what you are made of, and you will be astonished at just how well you can cope.
Try not to fight with your parents; rather, reason with them. Kicking up a fuss and shouting will do nothing but prove that you are a blustering child. Bide your time, speak in respectful tones, and show that you are an adult. Your parents are the people you will think nothing of when speaking your mind and proving your point.
But always remember Ė it is from them that you got most of what makes you, you. They see you as a cracked mirror of themselves, a blemished canvas they are trying desperately to fix. If you really want to prove a point, show them they have nothing to rectify; that they have done a fine job in raising you Ė someone they should be proud of.
When in doubt, keep silent. It is better to keep your mouth shut and learn while people think you a fool, than to open your mouth and prove them right. Do not argue for the sake of argument or just to have the last say. Keep that vigour and fire for causes that really matter; prove that you are an individual who values substance over form.
Stephan Hawking once said it is the quiet people that have the loudest minds. Be one of those, rather than be labelled a court jester that is all bark and no bite.
You know Raivath, everyone you know and love will have their own hopes and dreams for you. My personal hope though is that you have some of your own. That you will live, love and laugh as much as you can. That you embrace this notion that fortune favours the brave, and you see to it that your dreams are realised, however hard it is to achieve them.
P.S.: Always eat your vegetables no matter how foul you think they taste. They really are very good for you.
> This page is for stories that are heart-warming or thought-provoking. If you have an original one to share, write, in not more than 900 words, and e-mail it to email@example.com.