You inherit a world full of bright lights and colours
And more pleasures and comfort than your forefathers have ever known:
24×7 entertainment and connectivity
Information on google or ask-dad.com
Sometimes it seems as though
We, your elders, exist merely to educate and entertain you.
But tell me, my son,
Why is it that you cannot stand still and appreciate
A glorious sunset?
Why can you not enjoy lying on your back
And gazing at the stars?
Why does silence and quietitude
And the Grandeur of nature
Not attract you?
Your ancestors and I craved all the things
That come to you unasked for, unsought.
But the world that you are growing up in, unlike ours,
is a moonless, starless, skyless one,
The cool fragrance of greenery
And of freshly fallen rain
Does not touch your soul with joy.
Your well-shod feet are strangers to
The gritty, stony, grassy earth.
Your lungs do not know of
Ache and exhaustion.
I sometimes wonder how much your heart knows of
Want and unmet desire.
By coming to you much to easily, too early,
Has the world robbed you
Of your rightful inheritance?
Despite acting in good faith, have we, your parents,
Sheilded your soul from the thirst for
You may become many things, my son.
Your mother and I wish
To see you grow up handsome, rich, powerful, well-loved,
well-read, well-travelled, well-connected…
But as I sit here alone, middle-aged,
Gazing at the Himalayan skyline for the first time in my life
And remembering the glorious stormy sunset
That failed to draw your young eyes away from the television set,
A strange fear touches my heart with a cold finger:
What if I should gaze into your eyes thirty years hence
And find you empty, my son?
What if I see within you
Bright lights and things of plastic and metal
But not the night sky full of stars and a thoughtful crescent moon?
I beg you, divine father,
Take from my life what you will
But do not rob my son’s soul
Of the glorious sunsets and the subtle smells of greenery.
Gift him pain, my lord.
With your knife, carve in his soul a place for the earth and the sky
And all the things that people nowadays are blind and deaf to.
Bless us both, dear lord,
That when we gaze into each other’s eyes thirty years hence
– I an old man, and he past his prime –
We shall find ourselves and each other worthy of this good earth.
Preface: This is what I wrote a couple of hours after my son Gattu showed no interest in gazing with me at a spectacular thunderstorm during sunset at Kasauni (a town in Uttaranchal that affords a marvellous view of the Himalayas). Gattu was more interested in watching some cartoons on television.
When I first posted this in April 2007, we were on tour in Nainital. He was then 8 years old.