Updated: Nov 29, 2019
Last year Mohini and I spent a quiet new year's eve. We visited the Gurudwara followed by a quiet dinner. Then the rest of the evening and night was spent at home, babysitting and enjoying the antics of our two naughty grandsons.
As we grey, we spend a lot of time reminiscing. We recalled a new year we celebrated many, many years ago, in 1996.
"Dad, can we come with you and mom this evening to the new year party?" asked our 15 year old son, Mohit, accompanied by his 13 year old sibling, Pavit.
"Of course not", I retorted. "Don't cling to us. You better go along with your friends. That is who you should be spending your new year time with."
It didn't bother me the least, that Mohit, looked crest fallen, for I was making a man out of my son. He had to learn to be strong and independent. In fact, I felt damn proud of myself, as I left for work.
That evening Mohini my wife asked, "What did you say to Mohit? Why can't the boys come with us? I have spoken to our friends, and they are quite comfortable if the boys come with us to the dinner and party. Please let them come."
"No! My decision is made, and please don't argue with me", I said curtly.
"Do you know what your son said? Do you have any idea what is going on in that young boy's mind and heart?" Mohini asked.
"Don't make a sissy out of him", I scolded her.
She sat me down and quoted Mohit. He said, "Mom, very soon I will be busy, with my friends in college and then my professional studies in engineering. My studies and career will consume nearly all my time and marriage thereafter. We have only these few years remaining, that the four of us can spend real quality time together. We will never have this time again."
He continued "I want to spend these years with you both and Pavit so that I can relish these times for all my life. This is why I want us to be with you. So Mama, please keep us close to you, while you can."
My macho arrogance, had blinded me and had stolen my empathy and love. It had made me both senseless and heartless.
Could I not have had the same conversation with my son as Mohini had?
Why had I failed to hear and feel what our son so dearly felt?
In this matter, who was showing greater wisdom and maturity, the father or the son?
Tears welled in my eyes and I wanted to kick myself. How could I make it up to him? I went to his room, and there he sat reading a book.
With a weak smile he said, "Mom explained everything to me. Dad, it's ok, if you cannot take us with you. You and mom have a great time. Pavit and I will just chill out at home and watch TV."
I walked up to him, grasped his shoulders, stood him up. I embraced him real tight, and kissed him on his forehead. I said, "I am sorry, I refused you in the morning. On second thought, its a great idea that you came with us."
The four of us went together, to the new year party. We joked about and laughed so much that our stomachs ached, we danced until our legs hurt. Then we danced and laughed even more... . The easy spontaneity, fun, bonding and love, made it a fabulous, unforgettable happy evening,
Thanks to Mohini and our sons, I became a better father and human being.
Now 22 years later everything has happened almost exactly as Mohit foresaw it. Even though we all stay together, our lives travelling in different orbits, allow us fewer occasions to spend time together.
Our sons have grown up, are married, and fathers now. Its but natural that they devote their lives to the future. Their time is devoted to their work, wives, children, friends and associates. We have to struggle to find quality time as a joint family.
Nowadays when the six of us and our grandsons get to spend time together, we still enjoy ourselves a lot, but it is somewhat different. The love and the magic is there, but it is not so overpowering anymore. Its not so intense and definitely less insane.
Mohini and I draw consolation from Khalil Gibran's words, "Our children come through us, but they belong not to us ........".