JUST BEING THERE...
My 19-year-old son has come home for a short Diwali vacation. For the last two nights, he has been working on some creative piece with his laptop and pad. I sat beside him for quite some time watching the way he went about creating magic with his talent. I don’t remember saying much as I sat there, except a few things, here and there, showing my genuine curiosity. I made tea for him… and prepared his bed too as he went about his work. Then, I sat there, beside. Then, I fell asleep. Then, I woke up. Then, I fell asleep… But, I wanted to be there. Just beside him.
Some two days earlier, the day he had arrived from Pune, I sat with him till late into night. He put around me his headphone and guided me through all his favorite music videos. All of them were amazing… and, thoughtfully, he was exciting me with such videos he knew his dad would love. I did. In fact, I was hooked on to them, and he kept showing me more and more, though it was late, and though I had to leave early the next morning. I felt extremely happy to be doing what would make both of us happy, that night
My brother Rony, who lives in Kuwait, is a very gifted singer. I remember encouraging him to be a good singer right from the time when he was a small boy. I would keep motivating him, support him and even coax him. It took some time for me to realize that I was doing this to Rony, because that gave me huge fulfillment. In Rony’s success, I saw my own… When he failed, I too felt the pain. I would talk about Rony’s singing talent to every one around, even to strangers.
One day, just after our marriage, my wife and I were returning from a place called Kudremukh to our native-place home. A stranger had offered us, the newly-wed, a lift. The gentleman was a gracious soul… loved to talk a lot… asked many questions and apparently was very fond of music and songs. When I told proudly about my brother Rony’s singing talent, he immediately said, “I must meet him; I must listen to his songs.”
I quickly agreed to take him home once we reached our destination. It was night; when we all landed, Rony wasn’t at home. After a while, when he came, I excitedly and proudly introduced Rony to the stranger and told him why the gentleman was there. I asked Rony to sing some of his songs for this stranger.
Rony politely refused!
For a while, I couldn’t understand what was happening. I was embarrassed and, even, angry. Somehow, the man was gracious enough to downplay the issue, and after some snacks and tea, he bid us good-bye. He sincerely shook Rony’s hands and wished him well, as he left.
Again, it took some years for me to understand, why I had no business to manipulate Rony like that… Even though, I was his mentor, and even though I was a father-figure for him. Yes, he was right. He felt suffocated with such ‘exhibition’ of his singing. That night, he was not in a frame of mind at all to sing. And, I was asking him to sing for my own reasons!
Rony loves me a lot as I too do. He openly proclaims that he would not have done all that without me, my support. He knows, I love him sing… He knows the kind of songs I like… and, whenever he is with us, he sings them for me… without I asking for them. He knows, I like them; so, he sings.
But, that night, he knew, I was trespassing into his ‘space’. And, he did communicate that feeling by politely refusing to sing before the stranger.
My son creates his beautiful work… because, he knows I love it, too. My sitting beside him, as his beholder, means a lot to him, to his self-confidence. My making tea or bed for him… My just sitting, falling asleep, again opening my eyes… and, then, again closing them… Yes, all these mean a lot to him.
I am aware of the fact that I should not step into my son’s ‘zone’… his personal space… And, though he is just my son - and though without my support, he might not have done all his creative work… Yes, my son creates those beautiful things just because, I am not trying to manipulate him… Just the way he puts around me his headphone to say, “Dad, here are the videos, I know you love.”
Love is beautiful, when we don’t try to manipulate…