The bright spot of light in our lives is little Zaara, our beautiful five-year old granddaughter. She is a tiny creature, full of spunk and bright as buttons. My wife and I call her a miracle baby: her mother, our daughter Divya, went through many a rough patch bringing her out into the light. At two months, there was a harsh period of bleeding that necessitated her hospitalization. But the minuscule thing clung on tenaciously. And then, in the seventh month, Zaara felt she had had enough of being shut in, and decided to pop out, though she weighed a little less than a kilogram. She spent two months in the neo-natal intensive care unit, and then came home to a muted and cautious welcome, at a little over a kilo and a half.
She grows blessed now under the love and gratitude of both her sets of grandparents: perhaps she knows she is loved beyond the power of words to tell. Like all grandparents, we too have dreams for our little Zaara. And when I think about her, when I look into the future, I wish that she turns into a caring and compassionate young woman, who will join the work force of our country, perhaps become a doctor, and live a full and productive life, very much a complete serene and balanced person, an integral part of the world around her.
But sometimes I think, to reach that stage of becoming a fulfilled and productive citizen of the country, look at the long and tedious process that she will have to go through. If she follows the traditional route of education, followed by a job, this is what she has to weather in the days ahead: a dozen years of schooling, as she moves up from Class I to Class XII. Then five years for her graduation and post-graduation. And then perhaps two-three years to get into a decent job. So in all we can say, about 20 years from today, she would have become an adult in her own right, an earning member of our society, and in a small way, adding to the GDP and the overall economy of the nation. In other words, if she enters school today, twenty years later, in the year 2036, she would have reached an important turning in her life.
And if I look forward a little more, though I know that would be too fanciful for me to do so now, I would hopefully guess that after a full career of say, thirty to thirty-five years, by the time she is about sixty, she will retire, that is to say, by 2070 she will probably retire. But then, that’s too far to think about anyway.
And what would that world be like, I wonder. That period of time between when Zaara is an adult in her own right and when she retires from the active life that she would have led, a period of about thirty years between, say 2035 and 2070. Would we be even able to recognize it for what it would be then?
Technology would have changed, beyond recognition: the way we talk, how we express ourselves, our entertainment, the music we play, the books we read. Finally, perhaps, the chip would have been implanted into our body, to act as our link to the cyber world all around us. Imagine having all the knowledge of the world inside our heads, on the retina of our eyes.
Health would be remarkably better; the average expectancy of life would have soared. Diagnosis and treatment would be simpler, I guess. Perhaps then there would be no physical money to harass us, as we now are harassed. Everything you have by way of wealth and money, would be in a non-physical cloud where you debit or credit your resources.
And relationships, human interaction between homo sapiens? Who know if marriage would survive? Would children regard their parents as we once used to? Would the family be still intact? I can see you ask if all this would happen so soon. I know it is not too far away; and even through the horizon we are looking at is but a fifty years, that there would be unimaginable changes, I am sure of. Remember? those of us who have seen life fifty years ago? How a mere half century has turned the world on its head? Everything we knew and accepted fifty years ago in the technology landscape, is no longer with us. All has changed, utterly changed in this past half century. And so too, all shall be changed, utterly changed in the coming fifty years.
The question to really ask and understand is whether things that really matter would remain or not? What about love? What about friendship? What about keeping one’s word? What about the bond of family? What about the nature of the relationship between man and woman, between husband and wife? And that then is the burden of my blog today. When Zaara is an adult, would the utterly changed world around her change her too, into something unrecognizable, not necessarily bad or amoral, but into someone so very different from what she is now? Of course, I know she will change, it is the very nature of the passing of time that change is wrought in everything we know. But would she change in her essentials? Would she be better or worse than the childlike spirit that she is now?
These then are my prayers for Zaara.
Let not the daily scab of life’s travails harden you to cynicism. Each day brings pain and happiness; disappointment and joy. And each day mutates, in some unknown way, the person that you are. But, let that change not turn you away from the wonder of life itself. The life you have is truly yours: the one true thing that you possess. Every breath you take is your own; what you learn from each day must not diminish the worth of that life. Be unsullied, unspoilt, unpolluted. See the value of every moment, the one gone, the one you are in now, the one yet on its way. I know, the more you have seen, the more likely it is to sour you. Make your heart into an open hand, never a clenched fist. Have it in you to keep it true and pure.
You don’t have to love all people, but you need to must respect every one of them. They have their own backgrounds, their families, their cultural backgrounds, their own private hells, their own personal joys and heartbreaks. Who are you to question them for who they are, who they should or should not be? They each try to reach their own definition of heaven. They try and fail, or succeed. But they all beat with the same heart, they breathe the same air you do. So take each one of them for what they are, the way they are. Give each of them they space they want, the regard they deserve.
Money is the great despoiler. Learn to treat it but as a medium, a way to get to another place. It cannot determine who you are, and what sort of person you will grow into. I pray you have enough of it, but I pray that you know too what its worth is. Somehow, it can never buy you happiness or good health or peace of mind. Zaara, knowing what it is not, is more important than knowing what it is.
Make each day count. What you do does make a change, to you, to someone precious to you, to the ones around you, to the family you are part of, to the society you belong to. Each positive thing you do makes ripples, that touch the lives of others. Each negativity you display affects others harshly, and distorts the serenity of their lives. What would you like to see follow in your wake? happy, smiling faces, or scowls and grimaces? Spread a warm feeling by your actions and words, make the change you want to see in yourself and in other people. Be happy, so that others are happy too.
And finally, who knows which way you will go, which path you shall follow. Work you must do, for it is work that shall help make you who you are. You know Zaara, of all the professions that the world abounds in, with all the opportunities that would, I hope come your way, what I would really love to see you as is a doctor, white coated and cheerful, stethoscope over the shoulders, bringing happiness in the world of those not as fortunate as you are. Healing people, turning tears into smiles, easing pain into wellness. That too, is my prayer for you..
Would you do that for me, for your Grandpa?