I write this letter to you today, as a reminder to you (and to all those who might ever stand in your path) of the extraordinary courage and will power you possess. I don’t say this because you are my daughter and I am blinded by my love for you. I say this because I have witnessed it first hand when you were just 9 years old. I know you would have already forgotten about that day. I also know that going ahead, life will seem extremely difficult at times. And lastly, I also know that there will be multiple times when everyone around you will believe that you cannot make it work. Dear Toyna, remember to read this letter then. If there is anything that I can ever leave behind for you, to ensure your well being; it is this letter.
I write today about the day we went together on a rough trek in the hills of Tapola. Your father, me, Aartee masi, Tanish and you, all went deep into the jungle, up the steep hills, in the hot sun. Our goal was to reach the temple about 6 hill tops away. None of us were physically or mentally prepared for the rough hike. We were exhausted mid way and you, dear one, were literally in tears. A few more steps up and I could sense that you wouldn’t make it till the end of the climb. I offered to stay back with you, while others went ahead. You would sit down every 10 minutes or so and with each pause, I would think that maybe now you would not want to continue. But some thing inside you, just kept you climbing higher and deeper into the jungle. We crossed leech infested areas where you were terribly scared. But the fear, instead of making you retreat, pushed you to go foward even faster.
As parents we were terribly concerned about you. We could see the fear and the exhaustion taking its toll on you. We told you it was OK to give up and head back. You would sit down, for a while, shivering with pain but then would stand up again and head forward. After a while you stopped crying. It was clear that you had made up your mind to get to the top. I held your hand and guided you forward, while your dad was always two steps behind, to catch you in case you slipped and fell.
You guessed it right. Aftet hours of moving slowly, stopping, picking ourselves up together, we made it to the temple. I crashed on the steps of the temple, taking a moment to collect myself before my rendezvous with God. But you were the first one to run straight up the steps and proudly ring the temple bell.
More than the thrill of the climb and the scenic surroundings, all of us were dumbfounded with your courage and resolve. None of us had ever thought that you could complete this hike. No one forced you to move ahead. We were even ready to carry you back, if the need arose. But you kept moving on, determined to make it till the end, on your very own.
Dear Toyna, try and remember this day whenever you feel you can’t make it forward. Remember this day, when no one believes in you. Remember that you made it till the end, just based on your resolve. Remember that you squashed any leeches that approached you with the sharp tip of your boots. Remember that when the sun was high, the water fountains were close by. And lastly remember that we, as parents, will always be there to support you in your decision. Even when we are no more physically around you, we will still be there to catch you if you fall.
Dear Toyna, go ahead, the temple bell awaits you.
Love, Mama n Papa