Remember we used to discuss how the owl may turn up on your eleventh, little one? Remember how you vehemently said that it was just all in the books, but secretly hoped that the owl would actually arrive?
We both know Hogwarts is not for real. You, too, will know some day that there is no magic in this world. We are exactly what we have allowed ourselves to become: no more, no less.
You need not believe an ageing man’s words. You will learn with time. I only hope you do not learn the hard way. But then, the best things in life are probably learned the hard way.
It will probably come to a toss-up between wishing you the easiest life and wishing that you become the toughest person I have seen. I would love to choose the former; but ideally I should want the latter.
I am certainly not the greatest father you could have hoped for. I do not wear Raymond; I cannot do those car manoeuvres that would leave you gaping the way they do in movies and commercials; I am a remarkably ordinary cook; and hell, I was scared to hold you when I was allowed to for the first time.
In short, I am not cool. I am not warm, either: whenever somebody tried to indulge you in baby-talk, I was boring enough to point out that it did not make any sense or serve any purpose. I have returned home from work late, only to find you fast asleep. And I have never thought cotton-candy was cool.
But there are things I can do.
I can make horrible puns, for example, that can bring that smile on your face when you feign irritation. I can unveil the world of humour — perhaps the only real magic left in the world — in front of you. Humour is my forte. Humour is our forte.
This also means I can read with you. Given the fact that I am intellectually somewhat challenged we will not discuss Kafka anytime soon, but we can always read Wodehouse together. We will not watch Mrinal Sen together, but an Andaz Apna Apna will definitely happen.
Most importantly, we can watch Doraemon together. Unlike many fathers I do not tire of listening to Doraemon insisting Nobita apologises to Shizuka. That is very important — perhaps more important than being able to cook dishes with six or seven silent letters at the end of their names. Blue catlike robots giving cool pieces of advice rule.
You are smarter than what I used to be at your age. You are also smarter than almost any eleven-year old I have seen. You are more knowledgeable, more mature, and more rational; I am forever at awe at your ability to pick up new technologies, and will continue to remain so.
This post is not the rant of an ageing father. I am sending out a message to you. I have no idea whether you will ever come across this, or even if you do, you will read it. I am not sure, but still, here we go.
There will be a time when you grow up; there will be a time when you will see the world without being blinded by prejudice; you will realise the dimension of the chasm between what you want to be and what the world wants you to be. You will stop being able to identify with people.
I am probably not the father you want. I will not even be the most-loved man in your life, for in a few years’ time there will be a man you will love more than you have ever loved me.
But I can be the “best friend”. Given that you are eleven, a “best friend” is a concept you will understand. I can keep secrets; I am a good listener; and (this may come across as deceptive), I am a very good guide and mentor.
The fact that I am your father was thrust upon you at birth. The moment made me immensely proud; smelling your hair has always made me realise what the word “bliss” actually means; but you did not make a choice. You were not given the option of choosing or rejecting me as father.
When you grow up, when you finally make sense of what is right and what is not, you will have the option to choose me as your “best friend”, your diary. I also come with nice perks, and consumption of copious amounts of junk food is one of them.
It will be a lifetime offer. Even after you reach eleven; or rather, especially after that.
If you ever win that Nobel Prize, I will really call you Bidyunmalala. It is a promise.