It was this day, 16 years prior when the hints of child crying rose in the tranquil room of the Operation Theater. A lovable kid with pink cheeks, gracefully dressed in blue, transformed me into mother. My eyes are wet even before I have put my words down. I can now feel what my mother felt when she told me, “Wait, till you become a mother”! Aarav, you’re 16 today and I’m having a hard time believing it. The boy I had just delivered has sprouted beyond me. You are and you’ll always hold a significant space in my heart for being my firstborn! Hey, don’t you dare tease your little brother with my statement 😊 I admired to see you both fighting over to hug me, “Mumma is like a bag of chips that we can both share” you had quoted. It was hilarious but amusing to my ears!
I’m sorry that I was harsh on you on many occasions, and you’ve preserved the letter “k” incident in your subconscious for eternity. It was when I went mad at you over improper handwriting. Parents make mistakes too, just like you do. We also learned our way to here. I hope you’ll cherish the memories from our road trips and excursions in your heart as you age. I love how sometimes you relate with songs to the trips and for once, Shawn Desmond songs remind us of having Ayan.
As you’re turning 16, I reminisce about the good old days. You dancing with the laundry basket on your tiny bald head, running across the living room in circles, giggling and singing on the tunes, you had just learned to walk then. I am sorry that I always overstepped, I wanted you to walk fast, talk fast, and learn fast. My world was within you, I wanted to above and beyond. There was once, when a random guest questioned you at 18 months, “What’s your name” and you fiercely responded, “Aarav” from the back of my shoulders, leaving him stunned and me with pride. By 2, you could talk 2 languages fluently. I remember our neighbor, you were just about 2and half that I need not worry about your future and that you’ll create your destiny.
I recollect, your expressions from the first concert in Kindergarten bedazzled in the slug costume. Brown overalls with bunny ears and red cheeks. Your teacher exclaimed to have compelled by you to have applied the makeup 4 times. She did that coz she adored you. I recall, your eyes scanning the whole auditorium in search of Mumma. I was wiping the tears of joy when I waved at you from the back of the seats. I hark back to the time; we were standing amidst the crowd after the end of the Kids Fashion Week. You had finished your rounds and engaged in play. All of a sudden, your name was announced on stage as the winner, we seemed to have missed that, but you made it to the stage professionally and grabbed your prize. We were startled.
As I take a trip back to the memory lane, I recall the day you decided not to proceed with dance at school anymore. That evening, I snuggled in the blanket and watched all the old videos with water running through my eyes, an era of your life came to end that day. I remembered how I whistled and cheered in your dance shows and we drove far and beyond for dance competitions. It was your dance competition that booked us on Emirates flight to Scotland to cheer you up.
I’m glad that I was your Mary Jane once after we watched Spiderman on repeat for at least 20 times a day. You wanted me to leave your dad and marry you. Years passed and you’ll now be at University in 2 years. It’s like you’re breaking up with me slowly, I already get very little of you but I know, I’ve to adapt to it.
There’s good and bad in everyone, recognize your flaws, and work towards eliminating them and getting better at things. Learn the basic livelihood, it will help you when you move out. Learn to cook and clean, make your bed, do the laundry. As you prepare for college, make sure you get perfection in the basics of life, it will teach you discipline. We can’t be hovering over you to get things done, you’ve to own it one day. Even if you get people to do it for you, you need to know the basics to guide them your way.
As you’re slowly reaching adulthood, these are my suggestions for you to follow.
- Bring Out the Best in You- I know you’re not me but better than me. I would want you to bring out the best in you. The words of your grade 4 teacher still clang in my mind for what she mentioned that you’ve got great potential but only you can reinforce it. Always believe in yourself, even when no one else does, and prove everyone wrong. Dream above and beyond and work hard with focus and dedication to achieve it. People will love you for what you are and you’re adorable.
- Make Good Friends- In the world of social media, real friends seem to have disappeared, you can talk 24 hours and spill your heart out but you need real friends to be with you, for the touch can do wonders than just mere words. Online friends can be good but beware of fakes as they wouldn’t be by your side when you need them the most. Good friends will support your dreams and will fight you for bad. They wouldn’t leave you unless you push them away. Choose them wisely.
- Respect Girls- Always respect the opposite gender, generations in the past didn’t value women as such but new generations understand the worth. Parents are raising their daughters similarly we raised our boys with love and pampering. It’s not the 1950’s when everything women engaged in chores and men bossed around. The partnership is about half and a half now. Respect the emotions, love, and care. Don’t play or let them play with your emotions.
- Practice Kindness- I’ve always given you a choice to choose your career, be whatever you want to be in your profession but always choose to be a kind and compassionate man. Rise high but don’t forget to help and build others. Donate whenever you can, if someone needs your advice don’t hesitate, stretch your hand to pull someone out of the misery. Be there for the loved ones but also be nice to strangers.
- Don’t take the family for granted- Never take your family for granted, for the sweat and blood they have showered for your future. Be nice to your brother, he loves you a lot and respect elders. Be humble and never show pride in front of a family who stood in thick and thin for the past 16 years. Spend a few minutes at least once every week to speak to your grandparents, it would mean a lot to them.
- Stay Away from Intoxication: – As heavenly it may sound; intoxication of any kind is not good for health. Remember the smoking PowerPoint you had prepared in Grade 3; you wrote about not falling under peer pressure. Keep visualizing your own words and keep control of your self as we couldn’t always be around to watch and protect you.
- Focus on the positive and Ignore the Odds: You’ll always have to choose between right and wrong. You’ll meet loads of people in your pathway and will find yourself in crossroads at times. Remember to look at the positive side of everything and ignore the flaws with people around you. No one is perfect.
- Believe in God: – Believe in the Supreme Power and trust His decision for you. Keep the faith and take it to the next generation with you. God teaches us to love and respect the other living beings, humans or animals, share as much as you can, help someone who needs it.
Just know that we love you a lot and you can always count on us whenever you need it. These 16 years have flown by so fast; I still remember your first birthday party. It took a few men and us ladies three days of decorating for the grand party we had on the white sandy beach of Mombasa. On this birthday, I want to tell you that I and your dad are proud of you. We’ll pray to God to help you succeed in every step of your life and bless you with everything you desire! Amen!
Happy 16th Birthday Arv…..