Dear Children:

Many thanks for the wonderful and thoughtful gift you kindly sent me for Father’s Day. I too would love to give you a return gift. And what gift could a father possibly give his children that he has not given them before, in all these years?

Being a generous father, I will give you yet another piece of advice, and urge you to treat and retain it as a priceless gift.

I am aware that in the past you did not pay much attention to or care about some of the advice I gave. I am not sure if you later regretted not having paid heed to whatever I had told you. However, I beseech you all to listen carefully to this special advice that I give you in my twilight years.

Your father will not always be there to help you in times of crisis, and you alone will have to cope. Please do appreciate that your father has had a roller coaster life with many ups and many downs. Also you will accept and appreciate that your father has a lot more experience, sweet and bitter, over the past seven or so decades, than you have had.

This world is cruelly competitive; it is not kind to the soft and the timid. Therefore, you must shun timidity and acquire self-assurance. Remember some of these golden rules that will help you navigate your life-journey:

Temper is a great virtue if you don’t lose it. Everyone possesses a temper but not many treasure it: most people tend to lose it easily. Let me confess that I too have been short tempered and have had to pay a heavy price for losing my temper often.

My advice is that you must keep your temper in a safe vault and keep it there safely. Temper and anger are twins. If you lose your temper, you get angry. An angry person loses all sense of proportion. If you are right then there is no need to get angry, and if you are wrong then you don’t have any right to get angry.

Siblings. After your parents, your wife and children, your siblings are your best friends. Remember that they have the same blood in their veins. Siblings should be like twins or triplets or even quadruplets: you must help one another in adversity and partake in each other’s happiness. Your success should be their success too. A brother alone cannot enjoy his good fortune if one of his siblings is less fortunate. Hence, you must stay tied together by your blood ties.

The Virtue of Giving. This is something that you all must acquire. There is no greater happiness than in the mere act of giving. The more you give to the needy, the more you get. I recall with a sense of nostalgia a song from Dus Lakh, a 1966 movie starring Sanjay Khan and Babita that very aptly sums up this piece of my advice: “Garib ki suno, woh tumhari sunega, tum ek paisa dogey, woh das lakh dega…” (Listen to the poor man and he will listen to you, if you give him a paisa he will give you ten lakhs).

You cannot live happy in your cloistered shell with unhappiness and misery around you. Happiness and good fortune can easily be shared but not misery. If God is kind to you, be kind to others and give as much as you can, and even more. And kindness must be instant, for you do not know if you will pass this way again. That is only way you can thank God for His blessings. Like William Ogden, I too believe that “Happiness cannot be bought; in fact, money has very little to do with it.”

Greed is the worst of vices and leads to much misery. Look at our country today, most of her problems stem from this increasing vice of greed. Please remember that you can satisfy your needs every time, but it is impossible to quench the thirst of greed. Money is important only because it helps you live comfortably; beyond this, money becomes an unmitigated burden.

An allied issue is the matter of paying your taxes fairly, squarely and conscientiously. Please remember that if you follow this advice, you will always walk with your head high and will sleep peacefully at night.

Build and buy as much property as you like, since that keeps the country’s economy moving, and make sure to build your legitimate capital. This will also help you expand your business as much as you like so long as the money with you is honestly earned.

The Habit of Saving. You must also cultivate early in your life the habit of saving, even if you are not earning enough. Compulsory saving must become a monthly ritual, even if it is just 5% of your income. And if the good Lord has blessed you with greater fortune, you must save more and more. Remember the expression, “rainy day”. Sunshine is not always there. So you must save for the inevitable “rainy day”.

A reasonable amount of money in the bank gives you greater confidence and self-assurance, and these help you perform much better at your work place.

Your wife and children. Remember, when you were young and fell sick and ran a high temperature, it was your mother or father who kept awake all night with a cold sponge to bring the temperature down. Your parents then cut down on their own necessities and pampered you with cookies, chocolates, ice creams, etc. They met all your wishes even if they had had to forego their own basic needs.

Please do the same with your children, but make sure not to spoil them. Also remember that your spouse is your best friend and you must take care of him or her. However, you should not pamper him or her to the extent that it adversely affects your natural relations with your parents and siblings. Here you must draw the line.

Your loving Papa

P.S. Though this letter is intended for my children, it is equally applicable to all the children of the world since they too live in the same competitive world and face identical problems. They too need to have strength of character and enough material resources to live comfortably and happily.

Raj Kanwar is a Dehra Dun based freelance journalist and writer.