How I met my daughter for the first time?
Today is my daughter Pracchi Shah’s (affectionately Kachu) birthday. She was born in 1979, when I was away to former USSR for training on Soviet helicopters for India’s first missile destroyer, INS Rajput. I held her in my arms for the first time in September 1980 when ship came to Bombay also for the first time. Happy birthday darling…!
My family, father, wife Shail with Kachu in her lap and my elder cousin HS were on the wharf along with many Rajput families. The ship was alongside in naval dock, but gangway was not placed as customs clearance was awaited. However, I came out on the main deck, like many others, to wave and kiss their families, whom they were meeting after more than a year. My wife, though scared of water and height, came close enough, on the edge of the wharf, where I could touch her and the baby. I extended my arms to take her in my lap. The ten-month-old baby responded positively with smile, even though she had never seen me before. She perhaps loved my beard, because that is the first thing she touched in my lap. I went gung-ho and took her to the Wardroom (officer’s mess), to the cheers and dancing by fellow officers. Rest is a history.
Since then lot of water has flowed under the bridge. She is 38 and going on 39. I get up around 5-5:30 normally and read a page. What a coincidence that this morning when I opened my Vedanta book, it was a page on setting relationships right. What matters most today is our relationship with family members and in particular with daughters.
How do we set our relationships right?
Ironically, most of us take utmost care to choose the ‘right partner’, but quite ignore the importance of the ‘right relationship’ with that person. I also recall an extract from my book, ‘Guns and Glories’, where Acharya Jinchadra Suriji, drives home this point brilliantly while discussing with Dewan Karam Chand and children of Emperor Akbar in Lahore court. A young woman sought Acharya’s opinion about her decision to get married.
Acharya shot out an advice, “By all means get married. If you do get a good husband, you will be happy. If you get a bad one you will become a preacher or philosopher!”
So, all through life our importance is on finding the right partner or environment instead of learning the art of relating to it. A knife is indispensable in a home. The family uses it everyday in the kitchen. But the same knife could be put to a horrifying use of stabbing a person. A knife per se cannot be labelled as beneficial or destructive. It would depend upon how one relates to it.
Vedanta says, “It is with any partnership. If you relate to a person wisely you create a heaven out of the relationship. If not, your relationship turns into hell. Heaven and hell are not geographical places. They are mere states of your mind. You make or mar yourself. You are the architect of your fortune. You are also the architect of your misfortune. All you need to do is set right, healthy relationship with the world you connect.”
Vedanta continues, “In the course of life you meet different types of people, situations and environment. When your intellect is weak your mind is affected by external fluctuations. You become upset. But with strong intellect you could deal with them impartially and relate to them appropriately. It you cannot change the flow, get into the flow and make best out of it.”
It reminds me of a story which my craft teacher at Xavier’s in 60s would tell, “A bad workman complains of his tools. Be a perfect craftsman, get on to your job with the tools you have.”
Be a master, not a slave to external challenges.
Have you ever wondered why is it so difficult to forgive someone who has wronged you in any way?
There are people who do not seem to bother about the hurt and pain that they may seem to receive from people around them. After all pain is our response to people and pain is not given by others to us. Then there are people who can carry the memories of a negative incident for a complete lifetime so much that it can affect their physical health and moods to a very large extent. Is it not easy to forgive and forget? Or is it for some the most difficult thing to do? Why the difference?
There was once a shopkeeper in a little village of Southern India who used to sell coconuts to people. Once while selling his product to a rich trader, he was asked by the rich trader, “Can you lend me a few coconuts for a day? I will return them to you in the evening.”
The shopkeeper replied, “I can sell the coconuts to you at a lower rate if you wish but I cannot lend them to you.”
The rich trader needed the coconuts just for a function as decoration. In the same manner, at times we are like this shopkeeper. We indulge in trade in our relationships. We want something in return for everything we give. We want love in return of love. We want happiness when we give happiness to someone. When this does not happen, we are hurt and cannot forget what happened.