Saturday, December 12, 2015

A note to my son hours before he turns a teenager

I’m sure you remember Puggi. The hyper-mischievous boy and the protagonist of the stories you made me imagine and  narrate to you as your favorite bedtime ritual. We must have started when you were very young, not more than 5, and maintained the routine for years, clocking well over a 1000 stories. Many a time, I used to doze off before you did with the stories meandering into incoherence and you shaking me up, “Papa wake up, that doesn’t make any sense!”.  But my lasting memory is  that of us laughing hysterically on Puggi’s imaginary antics, troubling his neighbors, teaching the school bully a lesson, bugging his teachers and many other characters who became an inseparable part of our bedtime routine.  Since you were so familiar with each of them you even started pre-determining  the cast for each story,  the rotund neighborhood uncle  - Puggi’s pet victim, being your favorite of course!

Somehow, the frequency, almost daily initially, slipped to ‘every other day’ and then we settled into a weekend routine. My work and your discovery of electronic distractions being the reason – the former being the bigger culprit. And then the Puggi stories stopped. Childhood routines don't have a specific point when you outgrow them. They just fade into a nostalgic past. There's always a reassurance that the next one could be anytime. Till one day you realize that may not be the case. Last week when I saw you practice an AC/DC riff on your new electric guitar, the realization dawned that we’ve come too far from the world of Puggi stories. I can’t remember the last story. Had I known its the final one, I would have made it the funniest, craziest, most epic one ever, turning it into a grand finale. But its time to move on.

So here’s a confession dear son.  Puggi was just an excuse, a front, a living version of a few values that I hold true. They say Popeye was created to get kids to eat spinach. I created Puggi to teach you all that I hold true in life. All the crazy mischiefs and antics always had the same sub-plot. Sorry for being Machiavellian about an innocent bedtime routine. But my intentions were good.  In case the thousand odd stories failed to work, here’s what I wanted to tell you

1. Did you notice how Puggi found himself in new adventures and experiences each time?
Never ever hesitate to experience new places, activities and cultures. Life is all about accumulating experiences and not possessions.

2. Troublesome as he was, there never was a story where Puggi harmed someone weaker than him.
Neither should you. Help those less  privileged than you. Most of us have won the lottery of birth. We could easily have been the ones braving rough waters in a raft trying to reach a safer country.  Its simply our responsibility to help those less privileged.

3. Women – Puggi was nice to them.
Ideally I would say treat them as equals but given the world around us is rather unfairly male centric I would appreciate if you go out of your way and be sensitive to them.

4. No matter what he did, Puggi always confessed to his parents at the end of the story.
So always be truthful. Now I have to admit, as you grow older you’ll find it more and more difficult to follow this. However being completely honest with those close to you is a good practice and not too hard to follow.

5. Remember Puggi’s awkward and uncomfortable questions?
There’s nothing in the world that’s not open to questioning. No truth that's absolute, no belief beyond logic. We were given the power to reason for a reason. Stay away from dogma and rigid thinking. Question everything. And that includes these 5 values I just shared with you.

That's it. That's all I was trying to teach you all these years. There’s no guarantee these values will bring  you material success. But they just might make you a better human being. 

Years from now you might feel the need to refer to this note again. Which will be nice. Or maybe you won't. Which might even be nicer as that could mean you are already living these values or have discovered some of your very own. And there are few things more wonderful than finding your own little values to live life by

Happy Birthday son. Enjoy teenage and now you can go back to practicing that AC/DC riff. 


Avirup Das said...

"Had I known its the final one, I would have made it the funniest, craziest, most epic one ever, turning it into a grand finale."

Not all regrets are a bad thing. Beautifully written, Parry. Thanks for sharing what must be an intimately bittersweet experience.

Pranav Harish said...

Beautifully written Uncle, loved reading it!

Parminder Singh said...

Thanks guys!

Unknown said...

Excellent Note...Words of Great value especially second one.

Puneet Singh said...

Excellent Note...Words of Great value especially second one.