Monday, June 05, 2006

Of Letters Unwritten And Things Unsaid…

My folks back in India, particularly my dad has been very curious to see actual pictures of our house here. My sis did print out the pictures from the online links that I sent on her printer and show them to him, but I guess the old time kind of guy that he is (he is in his 80s) he wants to see actual photographs. So we finally got our pictures developed/printed on photo paper and we decided to mail them off. So there are like 4 packages sent to both our families. I wrote down all the addresses on the envelopes and was about to seal them when *A* said "why don’t you also write a letter to your folks".
“Why do I have to write anything” was my response. “I did put yellow stickies at the back of each picture with description of the room or house area. That is enough to give them a sense of the place”.

She cast that look at me which is a mix of exasperation and a bit of steel that I see when she knows she has a good argument, one that will be hard fo me to refute. With a slight shrug of my shoulders, I say “Well it is like 9:30 PM, I would like to go to bed soon I have an early start tomorrow and I don’t feel like writing a letter”. I start to walk away and she says “You know you can be so strange at times. When was the last time you wrote to them, I know we talk on the phone with them but that is not the same”.
The last time was 3 years ago I thought to myself an awful long time. I said “I will write something up when I am done with getting ready for tomorrow” was my less than enthusiastic reply.

Conversations on the phone don’t last long. You remember them for a bit and they are lost in the fog of time and a weakening memory, especially so for them at their age. A letter has a better chance of being preserved, remembered and possibly re-read and replied to. I haven’t written in a while, don’t get me wrong I love and respect my folks, but I am not always communicative about it as I am say with *A*. I am not sure why, I have been away a long time. I may also be fighting the feelings the only son has to deal with being far away from aging old parents. My not writing may be a way to avoid dealing with this?

My dad is more of a stoic, reserved person and not always communicative. He can be a bit of a bear to get along with and is not always social though he is certainly not anti-social. This is something he recognizes but can’t or won’t change. That is just how it is. Maybe it is from their being from an older generation. Mom is more of a people person but also easy to hurt and is very much attached to me.

As a person I try to be fairly even about my approach to things. Part of that is my instinct for self preservation and being able to keep an even keel which lets me function at a pretty good level. In order to do that I will often compartmentalize things or not dwell on certain things too much. Maybe I am just avoiding dealing with certain things that I don’t have to unless there isn’t another option. We have our own ways of dealing with things and that's mine.

So I did write a letter to them. The words flowed easily which was a bit of a surprise. It is often so much more easier for me to write some of this as opposed to say it. Maybe I find it difficult to say this in words?

I wrote about how much I miss them. I wrote that I think of them often and worry about them in my own way knowing that it must be hard to be on their own although my sis lives close by. I wish they could visit, but Dad has always been reluctant and mom's health has always been an issue. I asked them again to consider it. When they could have visited they deferred because my sis was going thru a rough patch in her marraige a few years back. They wanted to be there till things stabilized. They helped look after my nephew as well. Time just flew by, I wish I had been moe persuasive then when they were both younger and in better health.

I wrote about how I did not say enough how much I loved them and whatever success I have achieved in my life was due to their support for me during my formative years. They both were past the retirement age when I was in high school, yet they worked so I could achieve my dreams. For that I will be eternally grateful and am lucky to be blessed with them as my parents.

*A* did read the letter part of which I excerpted above and said it was very touching and emotional. I am not sure how they will react to it. We just are different in how we communicated or did not. But it was something that had to be said. *A* was instrumental in this. She is the best thing that happened to me and has always been my rock and the better of the two of us without any question.

I am not sure if I rambled or this makes any sense. All I know is I don't want to be left with a regret that I left something unsaid, that I could have been a better son but did not try.

I just got an e-mail from my nephew he did pretty well in his HSC boards, he did say my mom looked frail. I thought she did even last year when I visited. She does sound better on the phone though, she said she wanted to deal with where she was with her health in a positive manner instead of worrying too much.

Sorry if any of this depresses anyone, I might write something in a lighter vein tomorrow.

PS: Please feel free to comment on this post even if it is critical. :)

26 comments:

Aditi said...

Very touching, and in an odd way brave. Maybe it doesnt make sense, but it is brave in my view to finally write down everything that you have wanted to say but werent able to. I guess in a wierd way I identify. There is so much I want to share with my parents, should share with them but somehow it just doesnt come to be.

Dadoji said...

You may not realise this but you have given your parents an invaluable gift when they need it the most and expected it the least. For this you get a coffee/idli invite next time you visit my island.

Shitrint said...

"All I know is I don't want to be left with a regret that I left something unsaid."

im sure all these things that u wrote in the letter were there in ur mind all this while, even b4 *A* persuaded you to write...

they must be feeling a little lonely and ur letter mustve hav brought tears to their eyes as well a joy and contentment.
good that u wrote wat u felt.good that they'll feel better!
take care...
it was a good post!
:)

Shitrint said...

dadoji is right!!
u will be better able to relate to ur parents when u are in the same place after some years...
no offence meant by this comment, but all i wanna say is, i hav tried putting myself in my mother's shoes- and realise that wen i hav a daughter or son with traits similar 2 the ones i hav now, it will get very lonely for her, wat with midlife crisis and menopause...
:)

Mr. J said...

Hey, that's a nice gesture. I'm sure that letter will be treasured.

And yeh *A does have a point there...and nope this post ain't depressing. So cheers!!

karmic_jay said...

@Aditi. Thanks I am still not sure if it s brave. Maybe it might inspire someone else to do something similar.

@Dadoji. Thanks. Umm cofee n Idlis. I can't pass those up.

@shitrint. Yep they do occassionally feel lonely, although they don't say it.

@Me. Thanks. SO where are you coming to in the US in Sept?

Mr. J said...

Florida and Las Vegas. Sept 10 and 11th. After which plan to hop around the country. Ohio and Chicago is on the cards. Don't really know the places.. but I guess it'l be a dropping in the morning and flying back in the evening. ;)

Aditi said...

@ me
its a shame i postponed my trip.. else i woulda been there in chicago around the same time. Fall is absolutely gorgeous though.

Aditi said...

@karmic jay
hmm inspire yes but like i said i am not that brave. Besides i think my parents might think something is wrong with me or i am pulling a fast one..haha

karmic_jay said...

@Aditi. On the other hand they may think you are your own person and let you be?

M (tread softly upon) said...

This is such an emotional post and something we all can relate to. Sort of. With the advancement of technology hardly anyone writes a proper letter these days. Yet a letter means so much. may be for the preserving thing you mention. or may be because it is something tangible, like the love of a parent or child.
My grandfather used to preserve every letter that my mom used to write home for the 10 years that my parents lived in UK by copying it into his diary. Some people would say he had retired and had nothing better to do than browse over ecah letter that came. I think he was just trying to feel his daughter's presence in his life. We still have the diary even though it's been years since my grandfather has passed away. That is our tangible memory of his love.

karmic_jay said...

M. You said to so well. My wife also has her grandfather's (he has passed away for more than a decade now) U.S. drivers license from ages back when he was in the US.
You are right they serve as reminders of love especially of those who have long passed from us.
Thanks for stopping by.

chandni said...

very very touching.

I dont know, but it seems so universal...the inavbility to express one's love for one's parents in words...

We all try and show it in diff ways...but its just so difficult to say it!!

I remember once going back home and feeling all silly and childish and i told my parents that whenever i come home, I feel like a little girl again who just looks up at parents for eveything...I didnt realise how much it touched them till I saw them all teary eyed and glowing under that remark!!!

I think you did a great thing by sending out the letter...I am sure it would mean a lot to them..and theu would cherish it like they would cherish all ur visits and memories....

Just try and do it more often...and try not to let it become a one off ok??

You just made my day with this post..and i cant explain.

Teri said...

There is something special about letters, something good. And there is much value in telling the people you care about that you care about them. I'm glad you did this - it's and act worthy of respect and praise - and good for *A* encouraging you.

karmic_jay said...

@Chandni.. Thanks.
I will try to write to them more often. I am happy it made your day in some way. I remember I was not able to go back for 6 years and it was tough for them and me. I remember getting home after midnight from the airport, they opened the door and tears flowed down my face unchecked. They are old but they seemed to have aged so much in my eyes all of a sudden I guess that said it all.

@Teri. Thanks. Experiences that I have had the women in my life has been that they are more sensible when it comes to certain things. *A* certainly is so it helps to listen to her.

chandni said...

:) Just in case u dont check my reply to ur comment on my blog, I'll reiterate here...

Ofcourse I'll visit again..u're goin up on my blogrol...whatcha talking abt!!

:)))))))))

chandni said...

:) Just in case u dont check my reply to ur comment on my blog, I'll reiterate here...

Ofcourse I'll visit again..u're goin up on my blogrol...whatcha talking abt!!

:)))))))))

opinionatedinjerzee said...

very nice.. i think letters are still a very personal thing and nothing can replace that..even emails that are written.. something about seeing the persons actual handwriting i think! my grandma still has the letters i wrote back to her when i was in first or second grade.. letters truly become memories.. Glad to hear that you took the time out.

karmic_jay said...

@Chandni.. I blogrolled you too and will often visit.

@Opin. Thanks. I am kickig myself for not doing this before. But better late than never.

Keshi said...

very touching post Jay! and hand-written letters of love and appreciation r the best ever!

Im sure ur parents r so happy and proud to have u as their son.

Keshi.

karmic_jay said...

@Keshi, thanks. Parents are always proud I guess. Not sure if its me who makes them proud though. :)

Keshi said...

hehe u have a point there...no matter what we really r, parents r always proud of us...

Keshi.

chandni said...

I am writing a letter too :)

Sadaf Trimarchi said...

I agree that the art of writing a personal letter is lost on most of us these days with the easy availability of email. Even blogging makes it that much simpler to disconnect from people - no need to pick up the phone anymore to update anyone - just remind them (via email) to check the blog!

The nice thing about letters, apart from the chance to express one's self, is that it's fun for the recipient to get actual mail in the mailbox, as opposed to the junk that's usually there. Think about it - cards and letters are the first thing you'll open in that pile of mail.

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Cacophoenix said...

The generation before us was brought up in a way where they weren't free to express their feelings verbally or otherwise. Especially with a culture that often tends to frown on very demonstrative expressions of love, it is very hard for our parents and grandparents to tell us that they miss us and love us and they feel lonely. It is seen as breakdown of a protective wall which has taken many years to build. I always do hope that in many ways i don't end up like that as a parent or grandparent.