Letter To My Son: Please Take Care Of Your Actions

Posted: December 17, 2015

A mother writes a letter to her son, telling him that he should take care and be responsible for his actions.

#ShareYourStory is an initiative by Breakthrough to bring the conversation around sexual harassment into families; to get women talking about the harassment they have experienced with their family members, especially sons (or other boys and young men.)

 If you would like to be a part of the #ShareYourStory initiative and create more changemakers, share your letter to your son (or young friends, nephews etc.). You can write a post or send us a short video at community@womensweb.inMore details here.

Dearest Beta,

Writing a letter to you has become a part of my routine now. And I have to admit that I have had my deepest conversations with you through these letters.

Do you remember my letter where I had written to you about some bad memories from my childhood? The purpose of this one also is same – to share the not-so-pleasant memories from my life.

I remember the last letter I had written to you was when you were around 15 and I did not know if your little heart then could understand what I will tell you know. You are a big boy now. Last night the good news about your admission in the college of your choice in Mumbai came through and I am so happy for you. I know you will be gone in a few weeks and that makes me extremely sad. But at the same time, I see a fine gentleman in you – Mamma is so proud of you.

Let me warn you that this letter may be little overwhelming. But it is important for you to know these things because in this world sometime when you experience reality, you are taken aback because at times reality is most unexpected. I have to tell you about these things not because I think of you as someone who could commit all of this. But because if sometime even a thought crosses your mind, you will need a reminder to step away and return to your senses. More importantly, if you ever are in a situation where you see someone else committing something like this, these will help you to take the right decision. So please read intently – here are a couple of stories for you:

The grabbing incident – I was in my college and exams were approaching. So one of my friends and I decided to do some group studies. My friend did not stay very far so she had come over to study. We very excitedly finished our lessons and to our surprise 3 hours had gone by. It was around 8:30 in the evening. My friend packed up and I went to the door to bid her a goodbye.

Just when we were at the door we realised that we had not discussed out next day’s plan. Since she lived just around the corner I decided to walk along with her so that we could discuss our plan on the way. We reached her house and were ending our conversation just when a man came on a cycle. He stopped by in the pretext of asking for directions and squeezed my friend’s breasts. Before my friend and I could do anything, he fled on his cycle speedily. My friend was in a state of shock. I was not sure about how to handle the situation. I left from there once my friend went inside her house. But this incident affected my friend. She became very quiet and could never get her enthusiasm back again. As for me, I was scared of not wearing a jacket or a dupatta while walking on the streets. And I did not know if we were wrong in any way because I had no way to verify – I had nobody to talk to about things like these. I was rather scared to share incidences like these at home because all I can remember from my childhood is “chup raho” (keep quiet).

The hitting incident – This happened when I was quite old – around 30. I was working and had the best job in the world. Usually, my colleagues (2 boys and 1 girl) and I would walk home after walk. The route was common till a distance from where we parted ways – the girl was dropped at a common point and we 3 continued towards our respective houses.

So this evening we had dropped our colleague (the girl) at the common point and we began walking home. Just when we were closer home, my phone rang – it was my colleague calling. When I received the call, on the other end was a voice in shock and in panic. It was my colleague who was panting and told me that some man came on a bike and had hit her on the head with a brick before fleeing from there and that she was bleeding profusely. Luckily we spotted another colleague who was passing by on his bike. He stopped and we asked him to rush to the place where our bleeding colleague was. She had already gone to the nearby hospital with the help of her landlord who had reached there before us. So we rushed to the hospital. She had to undergo stitches in her skull. Though it was not severe, the incident left a scar on the both of us. We have never felt safe since then
These are not just incidents – these are reminders from each step of my growing up that I needed to be wary of the world around me. I have had men staring directly at my breasts which reminded me of the tears in the eyes of my friend; of the shame and guilt we went through silently. Those eyes on my body have often made me want to go hide. And we did hide – behind the long dupattas, stoles, scarves and shawls which we wrapped around our bodies in the pretext of trying to keep ourselves warm in our air conditioned offices, sitting and trying to find an answer to a legal query from the MNCs of the “developed and improved” world. What is the use of this development where another person felt unsafe every moment? Don’t we deserve better?

Even to this day, I tend to walk away when I hear a bike approach towards me from behind. Who knows which psychopath on the street is looking for a sadistic pleasure? I sometimes wonder if the world would look different without these fears. Like will the lights come up or if the sun will shine brighter? May be we will live better if not for the fears.

You are stepping into a different phase of life. You will be away from home and exposed to the world without the shield of protection that is home and family. Remember we are always there for you here – me, your girl pal especially. But there could be incidents that will make you vulnerable. When everyone does something, as humans we tend to believe that the majority should be right and why should we restrain ourselves from doing that thing. Sometimes, things will look fun for the moment and without any wrong intention, your friends and you may decide to do something as a harmless playful activity. There will be girls in your class. There will be boys in your class who would consider girls a little lesser than boys, who would laugh at, letch at, pass comments at girls. But remember Beta! Just because you are physically stronger than women, it does not and will never give you the right over girls in anyway. Imagine someone letching at your sister – how would you feel?

I want you to know that girls also come to college with as many dreams and aspirations as boys. It may seem normal to make fun of girls and to harass them – but be aware that it is not normal. I want you to be that friend on whom girls can rely without any fear. Be someone who takes care of them. Be someone who stands up for the right things in life.

These were just a few examples from my personal experiences. And each time though the victim was not me, I have been shattered. I can never imagine what the impact on my friends was. I do not want your friends or you to be that guy who has left such experiences in anyone’s life. And as a mother I consider it my duty to inform you about the perils that exist so that you can take care of yourself. We have all been victims of boys harassing us in many ways. According to me, only parenting can put a stop to what has been happening. At the age you are in, the judgement to differ right from wrong is not fully developed and you need to be told what could be, so that you can prepare yourself. Like how all daughters are spoken to when they first start menstruating about what they are supposed to do; when they first go to college about how they are supposed to behave – I wanted to be the mother who spoke to a son too so that he could grow up knowing he has had the right grooming and mentoring throughout.
So, please take care of your actions. And always respect women. Try to be the light and shine on. Please do not let me and Papa down ever – this is your biggest responsibility.

I did not want to leave you alone in this world wondering about things that are new to you. But at the same time I do not want to take away the fun of discovering and growing up from you. So I leave you with this letter – there is a lot more out there for you to find out and know about. And if you ever find yourself lost in this big wide world, your girl pal will be right here, ready to listen to you intently and smile at your innocence.

Love,
Maa

Cover image via Shutterstock

Traveller, Author, Dreamer. Storyteller at Storywallahs. Left a high flying corporate job to tell stories

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