For as long as I can remember, I’ve sought your approval. For the choices I made, for all that I achieved, for simply being. And eventually I gave up. I consoled myself that it wasn’t worth the time or effort. With each passing year, I grew increasingly convinced that you were harsh on me just because I wasn’t a son. That I wouldn’t need to do half the things I do and you would have still cherished me more had I been your grandson.
He, who is the apple of your eye, who will take care of you for the rest of your life while I’ll go build my life with someone else, who will light your funeral pyre and carry your name forward.
And speaking of the grandson, you will probably be looking forward to him getting married in the coming months. But I hope you will not be too harsh on my bhabhi-to-be if she refuses to play shy and coy when our clan descends into her living room. I hope you will resist the urge to comment when she opts for a trendy kurti over a traditional sari as you would have liked her to. In the subsequent months, I hope you will not judge her when she expresses her mind and sometimes, unintentionally, ends up contradicting your grandson.
When on the evening of her sangeet, she whispers into your grandson’s ear for a sip of rum and Coke to steady her feet and gather her wits, or wanders to the bar unescorted; I hope you will not reprimand her in public. When her hennaed palms, bearing your grandson’s name, nervously caress the long stem and rim of a nearly empty wine glass as she collects herself before she is put on display for the world to gawk at, I hope you will embrace her with warmth and lots of affection.
When she bleeds every month, I hope you will envelop her in a warm hug, soothe her brow and feed her, her favorite foods, instead of banishing her to her bedroom, like an untouchable. I hope that you will not expect her to exhaust herself trying to accommodate your grandson’s every whim, frivolous or otherwise.
I hope that you never negate her presence in a room. That she will not be defined by the clothes she wears or the accessories she uses or doesn’t use.
And when one day, in the hospital, she hands over a piece of herself to you and you look down to greet a smiling replica of her, I hope that you will share her euphoria. And when the love spills over from her eyes to yours as she solicits suggestions for an appropriate name for her princess, I will know that she has won. That she has carved for herself a place in your heart that I was never able to.
I will be a wee bit sad, enough to wipe away a few tears. But more happy than sad. For I will know that you’ve finally embraced her as a daughter. And that you approve of her!