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Friday, May 30, 2008

An autobiography of a middle class man - chapter 4

I received a mail from my daughter in law enclosing an interesting article appeared in New york Times, The link is given below.

I was remembering how my parents were doing things to inspire me, particularly my mother. My father was always busy with his work and our interaction with him were very limited, except on the subjects which my mother may not be having expertise.

As I narrated earlier, whenever I was feeling like writing, my mother was not giving me any gifts. Giving gifts were not known on those days. The best gift on those days from my mother was her encouragement to, what I used to do, and appreciate my writings. Whether it is a letter written to my faraway cousin, or a story written in note book papers, she used to read it first and tell everybody "Hari has written a nice letter, Hari has written a nice story" etc to all those people she met.

When I started a handwritten magazine, in our village, she never discouraged me by saying,"doing everything, except studying" etc. On the other hand she used to sit with me, when I work on its design, plan page set ups, drawing the wrapper etc., and used to suggest me the changes if any to present it in the best way possible.

I rarely found any mother , like her, even in this modern age, who encourages a child in its extra curricular activities. Whether it is singing, staging dramas, or circulating the hand written magazines. She never discouraged me, and she never said even once, " You are not reading properly: but doing all these sort of things"

It does not mean that I was excellent academically. I was always an average student in my studies and even failed once in my S.S. L.C examination. But she understood, that I always had interest in the extra curricular activities, and always used to appreciate such activities. Even for my failure in Board examination, she told the typhoid fever I had before six months of the examination, was the cause for the failure.

Once I wrote a reception speech to one of the Congress leaders who visited our village. On those days, it used to be very important to read a reception speech written, print it, frame it and then hand it over to the chief guest. When this gentlemen came to our village, a meeting was organised to felicitate him for winning an election as District Board Chairman. I wrote a reception speech in chaste Tamil with Red and Blue ink and pasted in a cardboard and then read it in the meeting. I was only eleven or twelve years of age at that time. I neither remember the incident nor remember what I wrote. But nearly after 50 years, I was surprised, when a friend of mine, came home after a long time, and started discussing our activities in the village on those days, my mother was quoting certain titles I gave to every paragraph of that speech to him.

I felt, somebody remembering and quoting what I wrote fifty years back, that too an insignificant affair in our life, was the best gift for my talents at that time. Only a mother can do that and my mother was very special in this connection.

Even though, she could not extend the same encouragement to me, when I started a magazine at the age of twenties, at Hyderabad, due to various reasons, such as our economic background, our commitment to the family welfare etc., she never failed to read them and I I used to see a light of glow in her face when she read the articles in that magazine. When I wrote an excellent article, about a girl who won the elocution competition, my mother was telling everybody, the flow of language cannot be so nice, unless there is 100% involvement not only on the subject but also with the girl(!)

This experience, perhaps, might have motivated me to similar attitude towards my son. When he was born, I was an officer in the Bank and my wife was also an officer in the Bank. I never induced my son to succeed in any field and never offered any bait for that. I used to purchase gifts ( mostly books) for him without any demand from him, and used to present them to him without any condition. There are certain gifts, which was beyond our capacity on those days, and I never used to tell the cost of the gifts to my wife, or used to tell her only 50% of its cost. But, our son was excellent in all his activities, and was brilliant academically. Even though he studied in one of the best school in Madras, we never spent any money for his education until his Masters in computer Science at USA ( Amherst).

I am writing this so that the parents in the middle age need not induce there kids to achieve certain things offering certain baits. On the other hand give them the gifts, they need at every given opportunity, and they will automatically respond to your expectations. Do not give gifts, which can spoil them and divert them from their goals.

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