Jan 29th, 2022

Dearest Anusha,

Wish you a very very happy Birthday!! As you turn 18 today, it’s an important landmark and I wanted to give you something noteworthy, something read-worthy, something that you can cherish for years to come, that may be your guiding light. Hence this letter. At times when you might not have me around, my words will be there to support you and help you make the right decision.

As you seep into the league of adulthood, you would see a big change around you. There would be far more expectations from you;  whether justified or not, these expectations will bother you and make you think hard at many critical moments. But the biggest expectations that you need to be most cognisant of, (no, it’s not of your dear parents!) it’s that of your own. It’s the burden of our own expectations, which is the most difficult to bear. Right from our childhood, we are loved, fed, taught, guided, cared for, and given so much support, we suddenly find the task of ‘standing on our own feet’ a bit overwhelming. And while the entire ecosystem, right from parents to teachers to friends are willing to give us the time, we are somehow in a hurry. Remember, you are just 18 and not 80, take every task one bit at a time, every year one day at a time. In a hurry live a lifetime, don’t miss out the moments that it’s made up of. And at times, you need to be realistic, while your expectations motivate you and make you do your best, things may not work out the way they were supposed to. In such situations, remember what Dada used to say ” Stop Expecting, start Accepting.”

Once you have addressed the demons of expectations, then you need to immerse yourself in the web of relationships. It’s the power of  relationships that defines the degree of happiness in life. And relationships are complicated, purely because it involves the other person, and we have no way to control how the mind of the other person works. What we CAN control is our actions (I would have loved to say, control our mind, but many sages have spent decades trying to master that art, so it’s way too hard for mere mortals like us). Just be cognisant of your words and actions and the kind of impact it creates on the other person. As long as you have a conscious mind and a clear heart which is bereft of any malice or any ill feeling for anyone, you will have a clean record in every relationship. The onus then is on the other person to see the genuine friend in you. Do not fret if the other person lacks the maturity or the awareness to see the goodness in you, over time, either they or someone else will.

The next thing that you need to be ready for is failure. While you remember the adage, ‘Failures are the stepping stones of success’, the new one is ‘Failure is one of the biggest sources of learning in life’. We do not learn as much from success, as we do from failures. And many times, failures expose not just our own weakness, shortcomings, oversight, or plain stupidity; it also helps identify flaws in the ecosystem, the drawbacks of the other players in our team, etc. There will always be second chances in life, so never ever treat a failure as the end of the road. While I never want you to fail at anything, be prepared to face it the right way.

Reiterating something that I mentioned in your grade 12 school graduation ceremony a few months back ; the other thing that you need to prepare for, is choices. At various stages of life, you will have to decide between two equally good options or two equally bad options. At times like these, do not get swayed by what the masses tell you, do not get influenced by the short-term benefits, make a judicious decision considering all possible factors. While life does offer second chances, our mind will curse if we make a wrong choice in haste.

Another facet of life that you will need to be ready for life is trust. Trusting someone takes a lot of time, but you may not always have the luxury of time and you might need to rely on your gut or just your experience. Do not judge people based on their actions, but go by what they stand for, what they have done in the past, have they built any credibility for you to trust them. While you are evaluating others, they are also looking for clues to trust you. So always be clear on what you stand for so there is no ambiguity on what you consider as right and wrong. And never ever betray someone’s trust. If you have to make some hard decisions, be upfront and the other person should know it directly from you.

Always have a sense of gratitude for life. If you have a roof over your head, clothes to wear and food to eat, you are more fortunate than 75% of the people in the world. There are people who would love to live the life you have. So be kind to others. Practice philosophy of giving and doing good to others. Don’t wait till you are old and have lots of wealth, to do charity. To bring a smile to others is a very noble act and it requires very little effort.

Life is complex and we make it even more complicated by chasing happiness, looking for bliss, running after wealth, seeking peace, life full of luxury – bereft of any pains or problems. But in reality, all this is a myth, the true happiness is in wanting what we have rather than having what we want. Bliss is where our heart is at peace, not the surroundings. Quest for wealth is an endless journey as one can never have enough of it – there will always be bigger goals that one can chase. Being content with what we have does not mean one is unambitious, it means you act with a position of strength and a positive mindset.

There is nothing more precious in life than your health. Being fit and eating healthy is something that you have adopted quite early in your life, so just continue doing that, because the biggest pleasures of life cannot be enjoyed if one is not healthy.

Have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and wisdom. Be a student all your life. Never miss an opportunity to learn anything. Make a serious attempt to understand things you find hard, to have the satisfaction of having made a serious attempt.

Travel, explore other cultures, understand other religions, discover a variety of foods and play all types of sports. Enjoy life to the fullest, keep moving, stay healthy, stay hungry, keep smiling and continue to spread the cheer around.

Always be the cute little Anusha whom we have always adored !

love you betu,

Daddy

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Hetal Sonpal

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