Father and Son
As I look back, perhaps the biggest change in the past year has been the change in the relationship with my son, Abhishek. He is 15 and in the tenth grade. Through the years, the maximum time we got together was typically on the summer vacations. Now, thrown together for hours on end, we bonded in a very different way. It started with our daily walks in April and May. We both needed to get some exercise, so we charted a path around the neighbourhood each evening. (Now, we just walk around in our compound.)
Abhishek and I started talking much more even during the day. He got to know my world of business much more. His ever-present curiosity led to question after question, which I patiently answered – something that has remained unchanged since he was a kid. And as he understood more, the conversations become richer – he would provide a different perspective and interesting inputs on what I was doing. Somewhere, the father-son relationship evolved to a more equal and balanced one.
For me, I found someone I could talk a lot to – in person. Zoom creates a bit of distance in conversations. However well one knows the other person, the lack of presence increases the distance even as the screen brings the other closer. Along with Bhavana and my parents, Abhishek was the only other person whose physical presence was a constant. In a way, he was new – we knew each other as father and son. But he knew very little of my world. That is what we started sharing as the months started going by.
Abhishek was born to Bhavana and me after 12 years of marriage. I was 38 years then. (See: The Making of Abhishek.) The IndiaWorld days, the early Netcore years, my political work with Niti Digital, Free A Billion and Nayi Disha – all were fiction for him. And in our conversations through the past months, I brought some of them alive for him – the ups and downs, the stories, the many failures, the few successes. I also spoke about my dreams for the future. He listens, questions, separates for me the possible and the wishful. He has become my biggest critic – and sounding board.
Relationships evolve a day at a time – and then suddenly, something beautiful emerges. Almost like the world of nature around us. One keeps watering and then a plant or tree is there for us to behold. With children, it is something like that. Many times, we fail to recognise the person within them and see them just as kids or mini-clones of our imagined selves. When I look back, the transformation in the relationship with my own son has perhaps been the greatest gift of the time home in 2020. He has made me better. And I hope I too have done the same for him.
Tomorrow: Part 3