Sunday, January 1, 2017

On your thirteenth

It is that time of the year, little one. Hang on, is the word ‘little’ applicable anymore when you become a teenager?

Indeed, I cannot believe it has been almost thirteen years since a little someone in a pink blanket had accompanied me in a car from the hospital.

It seemed only yesterday, the greatest cliché-writers would say.

I cannot believe it has been almost thirteen years since I had taken two, maybe three steps at a time to carry out every instruction of the doctor.

It was a cold winter. It remains the coldest Kolkata winter in my memory. The rooms at the hospital were air-conditioned, but what if you needed more blankets?

I remember the first time you took the school bus. I had followed the bus all the way in a car. I think you saw me, us; you may not have, too.

I could not have not gone (I know the sentence is grammatically wrong).

I know of people who do not like their little ones growing up. That day, inside the car, en route your school, was the first time I had realised that I cannot afford to do that. I needed to accept you were growing up; and would grow up into someone so wonderful that… er, what are the clichés your generation uses?

Thirteen. Thirteen. You are thirteen years old.

Someone had told me at some point of time that twenty-five years is the equivalent of a generation; as a result, the concept of ‘generation gap’ occurs between people separated by a time span of that duration.

Internet has somehow crammed that gap inside a decade.

Ten years make a generation now. Twenty-five years are more than two generations. Your generation is ahead of ours twice as much as I am ahead of our parents’.

I am sometimes scared that by the time I bridge that gap you will move so ahead that I will even lose sight of you — if I already have not, that is.

But I am digressing, as is often the case with old men.

Thirteen.

Time has hardened me, little one. Life has stopped me, time and again, from turning into a wuss. Those kicks in the shin have been necessary to keep me going.

How else do you think I am holding back this post, this whatever-it-is-that-I-am-writing on the day you became a teenager, from becoming one soaked in the most blatant, uninhibited displays of emotion?

What do I ask of life? What do I ask for you? Do I want life to make you time-hardened as well? Or do I beg of life to keep you away from all that will harden you?

Do I become the father who will want you to face and conquer life? Or do I become one that vows to shield you from it?

That, little one, is one dilemma (among others) that has haunted me since the day I had followed that school bus. I try not to think about it, but the thought keeps coming back.

See? I have swayed again. This one was supposed to be about you, not an old man’s ramblings.

This one was supposed to be about Doraemon melting into Percy Jackson at some point of time.

This one was supposed to be about me forgetting completely about my aching arms and still holding you even after you had fallen asleep.

This one was supposed to be about that helpless attempt to explain why a Pikesville boy used to prefer Becky Thatcher to Amy Lawrence. How does one explain romance to a six-year-old?

This is getting tedious, is it not? I guess it is, but then, nobody stumbles across my blog anymore. Even I do not.

We will meet, somewhere, somehow, somewhen; and we will meet soon. I cannot tell for you, but it will be the same for me as that pink-blanket day. It has always been the same.

Meanwhile, just reach out if you want to. You have my number. I have been a sub-par father, but many have complimented me on my ability to understand them.

They will hug and kiss each other tonight — at odd hours, if you take the time zones into consideration (that is the kind of technical specification both of us have always enjoyed, much to the chagrin of others) to celebrate 2017.

Whether they will cherish 2017 forever is something I mostly do not care about, but you have an awesome thirteenth, little one.

Live your teens. Never let them gnaw into you. 

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