To the little Girl I’ll probably love more than anything else I ever did in my life,
Its 2020 now, and you aren’t even born. Today I am just a man in love with sauntering around the world. When I am in the mountains, I go up at a fairly decent pace, and come down even quicker, laughing away. When I sit near the sea, it gives me a lot of peace and calm. Every three weeks, I go pick up twenty new strangers at the airport, and by the time we are driving to a new place in a minibus, I am talking and dancing. I love all this.
But once you come, I don’t know if I could love even all this as much as you. For you, little girl will take centre stage in my life, and I just know it!
I don’t really think much about the future, but sometimes I have these visions passing like a blur in my head. Of you and me. You, your fingers in my hand and us walking in the woods. And suddenly seeing a lot of snow. You gurgling with happiness and running ahead, and me looking on. You picking up snow and throwing it on my chest. And me scooping little you up in my arms and putting snow all over your cheeks. The joy and the cold making you scream.
You shall of course go to school and learn like the other kids, but we shall learn a lot more together at home. Hopefully there would be a cottage, some day, and us living in the hills. A room full of story books, some littered on the floor. Us lying down together on the carpet, your head on my stomach, and me telling you a story. Stories from everywhere.
It is not important that you love everything I do, but you must grow up to be an empathetic and gentle woman. Like your mom would be, like your aunts are, like all my close friends are. It is but natural, with all these people around you and loving you, you will always treat every human with respect, every person with warmth.
Daddy travels for a living, so he might be away for weeks at a stretch. And he will miss you. Every time he hears your voice on the phone, he will tell you that he wants to come back to you soonest. But sometimes he will take a little time. Sometimes he will be in a place so remote there won’t be any network. But when he will come back, he will run to you and hug you tightest. Through the next few days, he would always keep you next to his chest and stomach at night, in bed, and tell you stories from all over the world. And in his heart, he hopes that the stories leave you wide eyed, that you gasp when he brings fear in his lines, you smile when he tells you the ending. He did always play to the galleries, but he would be happiest to be your hero.
Do you know that sea otters hold hands while sleeping. They do it so that they don’t drift away from each other in the sea while they are sleeping. When you sleep off listening to his stories, I will keep you next to my chest and hug you. Your mother, and you and I will always hug and sleep. Every night that we are together.
Till one day you start growing up and wanting your own room, your own space.
We shall plan a lot of trips together. I wonder if your school would hate me. For smuggling you away impulsively whenever I can. We shall pack your little rucksack and go camp in the mountains. Lie on the grass and see shooting stars. If daddy is tired, he might sleep off staring at the sky, but you shall see a shooting star and excitedly wake me up. We shall go to Christmas Island and see red crabs migrating from the forest to the sea. It is important, you love every creature, not just a pretty butterfly, but even a small crab.
Your super aunt who is a tiger conservationist will take you into the forests of Madhya Pradesh and will show you the Sal trees. When you do spot a tiger, she will tell you its story.
I don’t know today if you would love adventure. But I think you will. And if you do, we shall go rock climbing together. With you, daddy shall also learn. We will row a boat together, and we will build a bonfire together. We will go diving to see a ship wreck, and we shall cycle in a mountain village in some other country and all the smiling locals will wave at you. Respond to them in their language.
You shall learn swimming and you will not be scared of water. Nor of closed spaces, nor of bats or snakes. Of nothing. You know when my aunt went to Antarctica last year, the authorities instructed people not to get in the way of the penguins. But the penguins came over themselves, walking past all the people. The penguins didn’t know, don’t know how to fear humans. They walk, stumble, dawdle past, even step over people’s shoes. Maybe because they never had a predator in their continent to scare them.
My little monkey, I hope you don’t know fear. I wish, and I will raise you to not be scared of the world, and to love it.
It actually doesn’t matter what you love doing. Because whatever you do, I will be one hundred percent with you in chasing your dreams. You will sweat for it, and I shall be there, the voice in your head. What you want, you have to earn yourself, but I shall always, always have your back.
You are not even born yet. But I know in my heart, that when you are, my heart will overflow with all the love in the world, and for the rest of my life, I will love you more than anything else in the world.
------------------------------------ The End -----------------------------
p.s The writer Neeraj Narayanan leads trips for young adults in India and across the world. His new book "This Guy's On His Own Trip" is an Amazon bestseller!