My sister-my Bauji-me…
The legacy we leave behind…
November 20, 2006
Dear Little One,
I am a little nostalgic today and the letter that I am writing to you would carry a solemn mood. Is it not but natural for us to be nostalgic when we are carried over by the memories of the past especially some actions that cannot be undone! I have uploaded an old, very old, picture of me, Bauji and your Masi. I am the smaller one sitting reclined towards your Nana. I observed a strange pattern reoccurring in all my photos that I am with my dear Bauji. Looking back I find that his closeness would always give me an assurance that nothing can ever go wrong, when he was nearby. I was wondering about how he instilled in us certain ways of life that I have, in turn, given to you all.
There is one incident in my mind so fresh as if it happened just a day back. The year was when I started to go to college in my Pre-university class. Shimla is a fashion hub and I was young and eager to go to college to enjoy a free life. I wanted a new tweed coat for me, the long full coat, as was in vogue those days. The children are always smart and know who among their parents would be sympathetic toward s them. I, too, knew that if I asked my mother she would come up with so many excuses for postponing the purchase of the cloth as it really was quite expensive by the standards of those days. Looking back, I can see reasons in her what I though that time as flimsy excuses! I knew that Bauji would never refuse me this demand! I asked him to get me a coat length before the advent of the winter season as the tailors get so busy in Shimla those days that getting a coat stitched well in time was well nigh impossible! Without as much a whimper he agreed to get a coat length for me! But busy as he was in his office so he told me to go to the shop, Hakam Mal Tani Mal, and get the cloth. It was a shop where he maintained an account. I was so elated to have free hand in making the selection that the same very day while returning from the college, along with some of my friends, I went to the shop. I asked the dealer to show us tweed cloths! He was surprised as I must have been 15 at that time, having passed my tenth class, and here I was on a buying spree and that too a very costly cloth.
While we were busy making a selection from the heap of tweeds spread in front of us, the dealer made a call to my Bauji! Perhaps he wanted to be sure that I had just not embarked in his shop without the knowledge of my father! Your Nana was just furious that someone could question his daughter’s integrity though the shopkeeper was right in his approach. Your Nana told him on no uncertain terms, “When my daughter comes, she represents me so don’t ever crosscheck for it”, such implicit trust he had in my ability to do the right things. Or perhaps it was his way of showing his trust in me. But did I have trust in my judicious actions at that time? No, I didn’t have and this is what he wanted me to learn though he made a big sacrifice of letting me have freedom in making a selection that perhaps I was too young to make. But I did learn another lesson, it was to set the priority for making choices and not to go blindly ahead even when granted freedom to act. I felt sorry for having acted on an impulse. But we are apt to error and it was after many such more incidents that my own belief in myself was generated. In fact it was after many such incidents that my trust in my own abilities was gradually built up. I was taught a lesson, albeit never openly, that freedom must be enjoyed but never misused.
It was not only in monetary and materialistic dealings that we were provided freedom but in such things as well that dealt with career making. Perhaps the same principle was at work when he took me to Hyderabad and Madras for that Airhostess interview. He wanted me to have made my choice and decide right or wrong on the basis of solely my judgment as he staunchly believed to have instilled enough in us to make a judicious selection. He really was much ahead of his times.
Dear little one, when I, too, let you all make judgment in many matters where I would like to interfere but would wait for you, yourself, to reach a decision that it was a wrong choice, perhaps this lesson that I leant in my childhood, is at work.
Yesterday when during our chats you came up with a sudden exclamation,”I want to be like you to my daughter!” I was elated and thought of my parents. It is the legacy that we leave behind that you would thank us for one day! Though I thank my Bauji for the tweed coat as well that still lies in one of the trunks at your Nani’s home! I have an old photograph of mine in that coat, and I would surely put it here to make me remember how impulsively I acted one day. But the way the coat has withstood the ravages of time, for so many years, shows that it was not a bad choice! A good bargain, in fact, for all the lessons that it made me learn!