This year for some reason I was trying to remember my 11th Birthday. What I did and what happened that day. but I could not. I guess many people my age would not.
It reminded me the value of what I am doing. Even today sometimes I wish I could go back and remember what my dad had to tell me. Memories fade over time. But thanks to technology we can preserve memories better now. That said I am so happy today that I started this birthday notes to you and over years have put thoughts straight from my heart, not even thinking it is for a kid. As you grow you will read and understand better.
What was new this year? A lot, but most significant for me was the trip we made to India and the time we spend together visiting my school, the college I studied in, visiting my teachers, walking on the streets I played on, the breeze in Calicut beach, a stroll on the beautiful SM street that is the heart of every Kozhikodan.
I felt life take a full circle as I saw you play with the kids of my childhood friends. On the same streets as a kid, I have played, ran, fallen and got up. Thank You for giving me that!!
I have always noted (and written) highlighting that you were born on International Women’s day. But today I want to say something differently. I want to tell you that it does not really matter which day a person is born or what other things are followed, revered or admired on that special day. What matters is how you look at this world and how you shape your perspectives of the world.
Celebrating a single day as International Women’s day has become more a fashion. What I feel more noble is when I look at you and the way you feel for equal rights at this young age. Even the way you put forth your arguments on women being equal to men. Not just on your birthday, but every single day of the year.
I remember as a 11 year old kid, I did not have the same sense of equality that you have today. Forget it, I did not have these same thought in my twenties. And I don’t want to hide behind the argument that the world was different back then. It was not, It is just that I did not rise up like you are doing now.
The truth is, I never felt it was important to stand up or speak for equal treatment. I did not even think women were treated differently or bad for that matter. And When I look at you today, and see your conviction for equal rights, I don’t know if I should feel proud for being your dad, or should I feel how lesser in thoughts and virtue I was when I was 11.
Rahi, you will be a Teen in another two years, and as you move from elementary to middle school and then to high school; you will know more about the ways of life, understand more about things in this world and how the machinery works. I know you have many questions on why people behave unfair and sometimes I am incapable of answering. But I guess one needs to ask more questions rather than listening to answers, so ask, and search and find. No one person has all answers and some answers we have to shape with our own experiences. That pursuit of the meaningful….
Over time you will come to know that many people still don’t get why we need equality. They build walls outside and inside their mind. They put a tax on dreams. You will also find grownups who think that changing their Facebook picture to pink is a support for women. How silly, right? Pink? Are they putting women in a box?
I remember you wearing a pink Katy Perry shirt to school and some bully kid asking how come, you wear a girly shirt of a girl singer and you replying back that there is nothing like a girl color or boy color and that if your sister can wear Blue T shirts of Jay Z how come you cannot wear a Pink T Shirt of Katy Perry. Way to go Rahi!!! I further felt so good when you said you will wear it again next week. Just to prove that point!!
The society tries to create a mould and fit everyone into it, but moulds are meant to be broken. We are born free and we should live free and free of fear. Never feel ashamed to do the right thing.
May you will not win all the battles, but your fight will be etched in the minds of those who witness. And most times change and transformation happens in silence, slowly… Be a sound leader and never a loud leader…..
Be the voice of those who cannot speak, be the eyes that watch out for others and be the arms that hug and the heart that loves and cares….. Be yourself… Happy Birthday!! Rahi… I love you….