ParentFew months ago, my distant relative and retired bank manager asked me: “Uday, I have a serious query – I saw your bank account of last 12 years. The only income you had is your salary that had been remitted as Forex. But I can’t see any savings. You have done lot of withdrawal. Where has your money gone? Do you have any investments, apart from those basic assets – house car and the small plot?” he asked.

“No…I am not an investor. And my job is not making money. And how can you say those are just basic things – there are billions who do not even have a house…”

“You don’t worry about those billion populations. You focus on your family…”He snapped: “So where has the money gone? Just vaporized into thin air? You don’t spend money on luxury, horse racing or even lottery…Did you invest money abroad or in private finance?”

“No uncle”

“Then where has the money gone?”

“That’s a secret…Let it die along with me…” I smiled again.

“Will you get it back?”

“Could be, as intangible, unexplainable and invisible things…Please don’t ask me to elaborate…”I pleaded.

“Ok. Forget money part, you are still capable of making money…” Aunty said. “But why are you not concerned about your kids and their future?”

“How can you say I am not concerned, aunty? I am taking care of them now, right?”
“Hmmm…Should I tell you? I have recently met your daughter’s classmate. I never knew that you are so cruel as a father. You do not help your children in studies – When they ask doubts, you would tell them to find on their own. Your daughters were very good in singing, painting and dancing. You have never encouraged them. Aren’t you ashamed – that too being a journalist, artist and writer?” he asked.

“Aunty, that’s not right. I talked to few music, dance and art teachers. Most of them are now readying their students for competition, stage performance and reality shows than teaching the real art….Should we nurture them as half-baked plastic faced chocolate robots – just as a source of income for beauty parlors and apparels sellers?” I asked.

“Your kids’ fate! Their karma! You are such a backward thinking father. All of them stopped everything just because of your, your…”he got angry at my answer, “You are not practical, that’s why you are a total failure in life….”

He was really scolding me. But I knew it was out of his concern for my family.
“If they have talents, they don’t need any support – talent will come up on its own.”

“Oh, such a lousy reasoning! You don’t love them. You are not practical at all,” his wife also accused me: “I came to know that you didn’t help your daughter to get an internship for her BTech studies. You have been an international journalist visited lot of multi-national companies…Just a word from you; she would have got it…”

“Hmmm, you are mistaken aunty. Yes – I had opportunity to meet industry top guys or interview them. That’s because I was a journalist. They are not my personal friends.”

“You should have developed those contacts for your personal benefits and placed your daughter in a top company. That’s how life is. Instead, you let her struggle even to get an unpaid internship in a relatively smaller company…”

“I don’t want to insult my daughter. She also prefers to go by her own merit. Any recommendation would be a gross injustice to her. And also, I am becoming an instrumental for blocking an unknown person’s merit-based opportunity, creating pain in him/her. I don’t want such a curse falls upon me or my daughter…Let her do things on her own. So she will have confidence and self-respect.” I said.

“If you really loved them, you could have saved few millions for them…” uncle told me again.

“Uncle, I want to present them the best – the divine gifts, namely struggles, miseries and hardships. It would appear tough for them now. But tomorrow they would know how much did their father loved them. Life would be shallow and superficial, if there are no down-to-earth experiences. I have taken them to world’s most luxurious places too, just to show the other side of life.”

The experience in life should be like the gooseberry: bitter at first, then sweet. If we do not let our kids understand the bitterness now, their entire life will be bitter.

I told them the example of the cute colorful butterfly emerges out of cocoon with lots of efforts and internal push. After few hops by flapping feathers it starts flying in free air. Life is such a beauty. Should we ruin kids’ life by pampering them? We destroy our kids by doing things that we consider as out of kindness and eagerness to help them. We fail to understand that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.

If we don’t allow our kids to go through obstacles and struggle, they would be crippled. Struggling is an important part of any growth experience. I don’t want them to have an easy life now – so answer to most of their wants is an emphatic “NO”.

Despite being a great man, Dhritarastra was considered Adharmic (non-virtuous) as he was blindly pampering his son Duryodhana (Mahabharata Epic). His blindness is symbolic. He was blind with selfish and biased love towards own kids. So the Pandavas suffered the injustice- and what was the outcome? All his kids became demons. Those who pamper own kids, do not think about those kids around us who are suffering without any resources. Today’s parents have defined love as ‘fulfilling desires and wants of their children’. I have seen thousands of such parents are suffering like Dhritarastra at a later stage.

“I have made it clear to my kids that I won’t support them financially or professional wise after their schooling. So my eldest daughter did part time online research for a European firm to fund her expenses for BTech. Others will follow the same way. They have to get admission by merit – its more difficult as disadvantage comes in the form of caste we are born. Good professional college means hefty fees. Let them work hard ethically and earn. Otherwise there won’t be any value for money.”

He didn’t tell anything. He changed the subject. But I told them: “Please don’t say that I don’t love my kids. That’s the only thing I have and that’s all I can give to them.”
[Excerpts from “Do you Feel Insecure” and “True Story of a Pauper Billionaire”]

Udaylal Pai

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