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An open letter to a mother from her son who turned out OK

Abhinav Banerjee

And Mom, that would be me trying to limit it to a humble brag. But today, my highlighting the fact that I turned out (actually more than) OK is not about me – it is about YOU.

My life so far

For as long as I can remember, I have really just been cruising through life.

Never worked too hard for the marks, yet always enjoyed being regarded as smarty-pants among my peers.

Aced those presentations, elocutions, quiz contests without too much work.

Got those education scholarships whenever I needed them.

Got that prestigious Management Consulting job without so much as an interview.

… and the list continues.

When success comes this easily to anyone, it would sway the best of people – and I was no exception. I did become arrogant.

You must remember the first time I faced ‘failure’ – when I did not make it to one of the IITs? Oh, that was a difficult time – so many angry tears were shed, heated exchanges had, and the first time I visited some of the darkest places inside my mind.

The funny thing is – you were never the ones to impose the expectations or set the diktat of, “It’s either this school, or you bring shame to us…” (heck, you told me to consider options other than Engineering before it all even started)!

It was all me. Me – driven to believe that I must run the rat race and come out on top – because that’s how I thought I would prove I was actually smart.

It amazes me how unbelievably wise, farsighted, and ahead of the curve you both have always been. And how incredibly lucky I have been to have YOU show me all the other beautiful, lesser trodden paths that lay before me.

Thankfully, good sense prevailed before long, and after a much-needed course correction, lady luck began smiling upon me once more.

The Epiphany

You know this Mom, that through all my failures, successes, smooth rides, and bouncing back, I have relied on my brains – its intellectual capacity, emotional capacity, and spiritual capacity. You have always brought me up to be an independent child and a thoughtful adult; but all these years, I somehow believed that I was just plain lucky to be born with a certain level of intellect and capabilities.

However, my recent chance encounter with the science of early development in children has brought home the realisation that it is not me, or even my genes. It is YOU, Mom and Dad.

My love for reading is not mine – it is from emulating you both following the habit of reading a book as the last thing to do before going to sleep, which I observed everyday as a baby and toddler. You even took the time to explain to me the best ideas and excerpts from whatever you would read.

My (apparent) smarts and love for learning is not mine – it is from seeing you both actively pursue your advanced degrees even after having me, working nights on your dissertations and submissions, and from your explaining ideas from your subject(s) regularly to my precocious self, while not dismissing me as too small to understand.

My clean conscience, unpolluted mind, and my spiritual inclination is not mine – it is from your firm choice to stay away from substandard, frivolous stuff; and reinforcing only positive, spiritually rooted ideas and thoughts always (even while you carried me inside yourself).

My cultured self and refined palate (as often remarked upon by others) is not mine – it is from listening to the choicest Classical, Instrumental, and uplifting music that would play to this baby at subliminal decibel levels on our prized stereo system; and from getting to taste all those ambrosial dishes you would treat us to from our perpetually richly stocked larder.

What amazes me is that you did it all so naturally that I didn’t even realize you had a plan in mind! You were obviously aware the whole time that you had the power to turn me into someone you would be proud of.

Tell me Mom, since when have you known these secrets? Is it something that just occurs to all great Moms, or did you read up on all the amazing science around early development, and about the magical influence parents can have on their young children?

My Gratitude

And so, mother dear – right now, this very moment forth – I pledge to turn over a new leaf.

That time when I talked down on you for not being able to see through a certain hidden agenda behind a consumer scheme, or when I chided you for not being able to download and operate that seemingly simple app – I feel horrible, for I had clearly forgotten that even if I did understand things better, it was not my doing. It was always yours. You must put me in my place if I ever overstep my boundaries again.

As for the gifts you bequeathed to me – namely the brains, the empathy, the elevated worldview, and the depth – they shall attain their purpose only now, now that every endeavour of mine will henceforth be towards being a more grateful son.

I am what I am, only because you clearly knew who you wanted me to be.

Thank you Mom. 😊