Since writing open letters seems to be in fashion these days, why should I not write an open letter, I thought to myself! Everybody writes to their daughters… for a change, I choose to write to my son. (So what if I am not a celebrity and he is away in Europe!)
So here I go, inspired by the Big B, Amitabh Bachchan!
My very dearest son,
You carry a valuable legacy on your strong shoulders, that of being a man in India
– the diamond of the khaandan
, the ‘sun’ which illuminates the fortunes of the family!
Both your grandfathers are engineers and you chose to follow in their footsteps to keep the flag aloft, as did your sister. I chose to follow my mom and took up teaching. And your dad became a senior government officer. Were we, in our time, expected to carry forward the legacy of our parents? Not really!
But isn’t this the norm in our society? Don’t we expect people to toe the line of our ancient customs and traditions?
Now, because you are a man, people will force their thinking, their opinions, their boundaries on you. They will tell you that men are strong, that men don’t cry
, men are the providers and men must be the protectors.
Don’t let yourself be trapped within these narrow boundaries. Don’t let others decide what you can do and what you can not. Make your own choices in the light of your wisdom. Don’t let society’s ‘do’s and don’ts for men’ govern you.
Don’t just carry your laptop bag to office; use your strong shoulders to carry grocery and vegetable bags from the market, carry your plate and coffee mug to the kitchen and wash them, pick up your soiled towel and hang it outside to dry, extend your ‘strong’ hands to cooking, washing and cleaning up
around the house voluntarily – not just when you are asked to help.
Cry when your child is born, if you so wish. Shed a few tears when you lose a loved one if you are overwhelmed with grief…..it’s ok, you will still be strong.
People will talk. They will mock you for being a ‘cry baby’. You may be called a henpecked husband, a ‘joru ka ghulam‘. Don’t let the stupid notion of ‘chaar log dekhenge to kya kahenge‘ affect how you express your joy and grief.
This may be a tad difficult – demanding an equal partnership in the so-called woman’s domain, taking equal responsibility in ‘her’ kitchen and ‘her’ home and treating her as an equal partner in all financial and family matters too, defying the age old cultural and social norms. But I believe that it is sensible young men like you who can and who will change these deeply entrenched perceptions.
It may not be easy, extending your boundaries, exercising your own choices, rising above the thoughts and beliefs of the ‘chaar log’.
Shrug off the baggage of this one legacy….of being a ‘man’. Be yourself. Be an equal, at home, at work, on the streets…..and you would have done more for yourself than I could ever do.
With you always, with all the love,