Preface: This is what I wrote a couple of hours after Gattu showed no interest in gazing with me at a spectacular thunderstorm during sunset at Kausani (a town in Uttaranchal that affords a marvelous view of the Himalayas). Gattu was more interested in watching some cartoons on television... and this made me anxious about his future.
This poem was written back in 2007, when my son was really small, and didn't show much interest in the outside world, sports etc. But since then, my son has shaped up wonderfully, and made me proud. My prayers as a father have indeed been answered!
You inherit a world full of bright lights and colours And more pleasures and comfort than your forefathers have ever known: High-speed travel 24×7 entertainment and connectivity Information on google or ask-dad.com Sometimes it seems as though We, your elders, exist merely to educate and entertain you.
But tell me, my son, Why is it that you cannot stand still and appreciate A glorious sunset? Why can you not enjoy lying on your back And gazing at the stars?
Why does silence and quietitude And the grandeur of nature Not attract you?
My son, Your ancestors and I craved all the things That come to you unasked for, unsought. But the world that you are growing up in, unlike ours, is a moonless, starless, skyless one, The cool fragrance of greenery And of freshly fallen rain Does not touch your soul with joy. Your well-shod feet are strangers to The gritty, stony, grassy earth.
Your lungs do not know of Ache and exhaustion. I sometimes wonder how much your heart knows of Want and unmet desire.
By coming to you much too easily, too early, Has the world robbed you Of your rightful inheritance? Despite acting in good faith, have we, your parents, Shielded your soul from the thirst for self-discovery?
You may become many things, my son. Your mother and I wish To see you grow up handsome, rich, powerful, well-loved, well-read, well-travelled, well-connected…
But as I sit here alone, middle-aged, Gazing at the Himalayan skyline for the first time in my life And remembering the glorious stormy sunset That failed to draw your young eyes away from the television set, A strange fear touches my heart with a cold finger: What if I should gaze into your eyes thirty years hence And find you empty, my son?
What if I see within you Bright lights and things of plastic and metal But not the night sky full of stars and a thoughtful crescent moon?
I beg you, divine father, Take from my life what you will But do not rob my son’s soul Of the glorious sunsets and the subtle smells of greenery.
Gift him pain, my lord. With your knife, carve in his soul a place for the earth and the sky And all the things that people nowadays are blind and deaf to.
Bless us both, dear lord, That when we gaze into each other’s eyes thirty years hence – I an old man, and he past his prime – We shall find ourselves and each other worthy of this good earth.