Monday, December 3, 2012

Letter to Atreya

While cleaning up my laptop, I came across a letter that I had  written to Atreya almost a year ago, when parents were asked to write letters to be given to the new recruits during/after their toughest army training exercise. The challenge was that we had to write it in their third or fourth week in the army, but they would be given the letter only towards the end of their three-month basic military training. Here it is. It also includes mom's funny message to him towards the end. 

Dear Atta

I am writing this mail to you in not the best frames of mind. The knowledge of your struggles stays with me like a shadow. Being a mother, and having played the role of your protector for so many years, my inability to help you now is crushing.

However, one thing occurred to me yesterday. The prisons are everywhere. Sometimes, they are physical, sometimes mental. What matters is if we can free ourselves regardless of these prisons. This is meant as much for me as for you, because I feel I am trapped in a demeaning purposeless life- it is no less a prison than a real physical prison.

I had read about Viktor Frankl many years ago. He was a psychologist and a Nazi camp survivor, who later wrote books about his experiences. From Wikipedia: “It was due to his and others' suffering in these camps that he came to his hallmark conclusion that even in the most absurd, painful and dehumanized situation, life has potential meaning and that therefore even suffering is meaningful.”

A para from his first book goes like this:

“If a prisoner felt that he could no longer endure the realities of camp life, he found a way out in his mental life– an invaluable opportunity to dwell in the spiritual domain, the one that the SS were unable to destroy. Spiritual life strengthened the prisoner, helped him adapt, and thereby improved his chances of survival.”

The above is for both of us to contemplate upon. Can I regain my self-worth and passion in a life-sucking environment where I am free physically but trapped in every other way? Can you regain your self-worth and passion for life in a place that denies you physical freedom and pushes you to extremes?

Take heart my son. Soon, this phase will be over. You will look back at this time, just as you did Mt Kinabalu, as an experience that taught you things you didn't know about yourself. You will be physically fitter and mentally stronger. Nothing will be too hard for you to take on once you are done with this. This is what everyone I speak with says. It is hard, but it only gets easier as time passes.

It is one thing to say I will do it because I have no choice, and another to say I will do it and still find happiness and joy in life. I am trying to do the second and I so hope you will too.

Try to rest as much as possible. 5 hours of sleep are not enough after a tough day’s training. Try to get to bed as soon as they let you go and don’t worry about your things so much. If you don’t rest, you will get sick. And if you do feel ill, please let your platoon commander know. They promised us parents that our kids will be safe. Tired but safe. Please make sure you are safe.

Now on to some other random news.

  • I have started going for my dance classes. Major stress reliever.
  • Manjari’s father is quite unwell. He is getting heart surgery to open clogged arteries. 
  • Mallika is going to Malaysia for a weekend to see some temples. She will go on 18th night and back on 19th night.
  • I will take mom and Aloka to Penang in March for a weekend. 
  • Aloka is going for her dance class but refuses to join in. Just stands in the corner. I am quite surprised at her shyness with others.
  • I am checking out Granada for a trip for you and me sometime later this year (whenever you can take time off). We will have a great time sampling the sights and sounds of southern Europe, my favorite part of the world with my favorite travel companion.

Love you lots
Note from Amma:

Hi my darling Atreya,

I have been sleeping in your bed for the past week and have invaded your cupboard too. So be prepared to combat this friendly enemy with whatever gadget you have learnt to use in the academy. Make sure they are appropriate for Buddhan amma ji .

Because how so ever hard you may try this buddhan is not going to die very soon. She will travel in your latest car, and be there alive and kicking when you come to India. Thanks to you we had such a wonderful snow storm when "all the light went off" Your video commentary was remarkable.

Looking forward to hearing all the details.

Love you beta.

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