A letter from an artist to her son
Dear darling Ahaan,
You’re turning nine in a few days. When I asked daddy if you would be too embarrassed to receive this note from me, he told me to go ahead and write what I feel. You perhaps know that you have brought us more happiness than we could have ever wished for. I can’t forget the joy beaming through my big smile, on first hearing the news about you, nine months before you arrived. We’ve loved watching you sing, seated in your yellow stroller (at one year, few months), relishing the sound vibrations as the stroller sped over cobbled streets; talking to the animals in various zoos; giving instructions in the bathtub. We enjoyed recording your tantrums during the terrible twos, crying and howling when I once bought you new clothes, throwing a fit because you loved the old ones more. After a tiring search sometimes, we’d laugh at the quirky things we would find tied hanging on strings, linking door-knobs to shoes stuffed with water bottles, moisturisers and keys.
We were often bemused by those failed attempts at shoving bigger things into smaller volumes that would frustrate you. From the days of delightful duckies to spooky sharks in deep seas to hand-crafted cardboard space shuttles, we’ve seen your interests gravitate to magnets, magic, maps and maths. You were wonderfully considerate throughout our travels, finding ways to entertain yourself, distributing the cards you drew at every sit-down dinner in the company of adults. You joined us at art exhibitions in museums, galleries, biennales, fairs, no matter where, whichever part of the world they might be and never complained even after throwing up (due to your motion sickness). I’ve always felt, I could never do what I do without your co-operation. While you make us recognize our strengths and help fight our fears, at times we fail when you decide to get stubborn. You’ve made us understand ourselves better, through watching you, putting us in touch with things perhaps we otherwise wouldn’t do, were it not for you.
There are many lessons to learn from the games you play; not just how to build, improve and excel, but to cope with setbacks and failures too. While games challenge us, they also get us to participate in solving problems and look for solutions. You cried bitterly when you lost your way home in ‘ minecraft’, but it’s helped you to know the pain, of what it feels like losing all that you’ve created and while we cannot direct the winds, we can however adjust the sails. Now, as you journey through new worlds in pursuit of higher goals, let’s remind ourselves that life is actually made up of little things. Continue to appreciate and value them while looking out for the invisible patterns in life’s situations ? for in the uncertainty there is hidden wisdom at play? which only in time becomes visible.
Reena Kallat is a Mumbai-based artist