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Dear Boys, I'm Sorry For Failing You As A Mother

02/03/2017 4:12 PM IST | Updated 06/03/2017 1:47 PM IST
Steven Puetzer via Getty Images

Dear Boys,

I am sorry. Yet again, I've failed you as a mother. I was supposed to prepare you for the world, teach you the ability to distinguish right from wrong, and ensure that you grow up to be sensitive men. And I am letting you down on all counts. Do you have it in your hearts to forgive me? In my defence, I tried. But the world is changing rapidly and to keep up with it I shall have to turn my heart to stone and fill my mind with venom. I am failing at that too.

The boundary between right and wrong is blurring. So I do not know what to teach you. You could be wrong depending on where you are standing. It doesn't matter what you say or do. What matters is which side you choose while saying what you have to. You have the advantage of the right gender though. So chances are you'd mostly be right. And you will also be right when you jeer at a woman, or threaten her if she dares to speak her truth.

Do I hammer my sense of right and wrong in you and as a result watch you being threatened, ridiculed and called names? The mother in me hesitates.

And therein lies more failure. I had dreamed of raising two sensitive men. But if you let the women in your life speak their truth, you could be called anything from a Pakistani to an anti-national. So do I hammer my sense of right and wrong in you and as a result watch you being threatened, ridiculed and called names that cut right through to the bone? The mother in me hesitates. She is learning to stay quiet and you seem to be picking up the silence. Soon your silence will be taken over by voices that are yours but do not sound like you. I am sorry for that.

I feel like I am sailing in a rotting boat where two more holes appear for each one I plug. And you are sitting and watching the murky waters bubble in. My bones are tiring of trying to keep it all out. You seem to be tired of curling your toes in a failed bid to keep away from the muck. We will soon be under, gasping for breath, adjusting to the stench and our eyes will sting for a while. Then we will be one with the world. Can you forgive me for that?

While I struggle to find the meaning of nationalism for you, the world is constantly coming up with razor sharp definitions. And if we do not fit the bill, the razor shall slice through our hearts. So I should stop correcting the versions being hurled at you. If you express your innermost feelings about issues that do not directly add to your angst, chances are that you are an anti-national. Even if you are at the age where the only connotation the word "national" has for you is "national holiday," you still will be anti-national. I am sorry for the label that will stick.

I should let nature take its course and turn you into that man at the crossing who is offended because I am driving a car, a woman behind the wheel...

I have so far taken pride in teaching you to respect women. But how will I succeed when all you see is blatant threats of rape issued to women who choose to speak up on stuff that is supposedly outside their domain? It is futile. I should let nature take its course and turn you into that man at the crossing who is offended because I am driving a car, a woman behind the wheel; the man who feels a strong urge to overtake the car because it sets the order of the world straight. I, the woman, have to slam the brake to get left behind—exactly where a woman belongs. I am sorry that you will grow up to be the man who protects his women even if they don't need protecting, who teaches them to stay out of things that are not a part of their world, who ensures that her world is stiflingly small. Forgive me.

I was naive to think that every tiny nail that I drive through helps in cracking the wall. And soon the wall would be down. Now I know that no matter how hard I try the world around us will nail you—little by little into the coffin that refuses to get buried. And you will join millions of others. Soon mouthing their words, spewing blood, killing dreams and above all instilling fear—the kind that wraps itself around the heart and gradually strangulates the last beat out of it.

Can you still find it somewhere inside you to continue to fight? Can you still try doing what we completely failed at?

I am sorry I failed you. And I am sorry I am raising you to live in a world that is flourishing on hatred. And you know what? Some of us, who still haven't lost hope, dream of you fixing it. The mess that we created, that we quietly stood and watched engulf everything— we expect you to clean it. Will you be able to do it? Every passing day, every headline in the newspaper makes us realise we are being delusional. You will soon either be a cog in the wheel or be crushed under it. The space for standing up and moving against the tide seems to be decreasing each day.

I hope you can forgive the optimism with which I have brought you up so far. The belief that no matter how dark it gets, you will find your light. Today I stand in the dark, wondering if there will ever be light. All I can say is, just stay strong. Try and see the flicker of hope that sometimes flares a little in the horizon. See if you can increase your tribe who truly believe that love for one's country isn't shouted in the streets or worn on the sleeve; who believe that women are people too; who can function without violence, without hatred. Then maybe the likes of me can feel less guilty, less afraid and more hopeful.

I know the world is giving up on itself. But can you still forgive my dream and promise me not to give up on the world? Can you still find it somewhere inside you to continue to fight? Can you still try doing what we completely failed at? And above all, can you forgive me for filling your head with all this nonsense?

Love,

Mum

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