A letter to Ram

Dear Tatu

Today is your 100th birthday. Happy birthday wherever you are! Somehow I know that you are very close to me as I can fell your spirit right here with me and the smile the the picture that sits on my desk seems strangely alive. It almost seems as if you will walk out of the frame any moment and sit by me. A soft rain is falling and memories of days gone by fill my mind. Memories are strange beings as they can travel through time and space faster than light offering one a wonderful and thrilling journey. As I write these words I find myself being a little girl and a grown and ageing woman at the same time. Quite an experience!

But this letter is not meant to recall our tender and precious moments together. No. The reason I write is to tell you how we have decided to celebrate your centenary. Tatu you gave me the gift of life and that is what I want to celebrate this blessed day. When M asked me whether I was planning to have a puja for you I laughed. Though you were deeply spiritual I somewhat felt that a grim set of rituals was not the way to honour someone who lived life king size, to borrow a line from the advertising world! I had to come up with a befitting way of marking your 100th birthday. And I knew just how. It would not be I, but the children of project why who would mark this day in their own inimitable style.

In a few hours form now a bunch of happy children will sing and dance to their heart's content just for you. They will celebrate India in song and movement as you share a birthday with this land you so loved and were never willing to give up on. Even in its darkest hour, when mosques were threatened to be destroyed your words were ones of hope and belief as you repeated almost obsessively lying on your death bed: Don't lose faith in India. I never did because you taught me where to find the real India: in its little people. And it is the children of these very little people who will honour you today.

When you left me on that cold winter morning I was lost and remained so for many years. I tried to drown my sorrow in more ways than one but it was only when I decided to reach out to those in need that I found my way again. I have never looked back and though I miss you each and every day, it does not hurt anymore as I know you walk by me in each step I take, giving me the strength to continue my journey on the road less travelled.

I need a favour today Tatu. The last then years have been smooth sailing. Every road block or challenge was met with courage and eventual success. Sometimes it was scary as one felt favoured beyond expectation. Miracles came our way and I have a strange feeling that you were at the giving end. But in the past few months with age weighing heavy I have been worried about the morrows of pwhy. I have tried to the best of my ability to elaborate plans and ways to see pwhy live beyond me but they have all fallen short. I need you to show me the way. Is pwhy destined to carry on or will it slowly wind itself up without hurting the people that have come to depend on it. I know it is I who should be showering you with gifts today, but allow me to reverse the equation and ask for one today.

During your life your were always there to answer my questions and doubts. Will you do that once more for me?

Your child

anou