Friday, September 17, 2010

Sacrifices made at the altar of the bottom line


It was my younger brother's birthday yesterday, and all my attempts at getting in touch with him came to naught. Being away from family to be employed overseas has started to take its toll on me, and though the cracks aren't apparent, I get maudlin around this time of year. It eventually passes, but a part of me doesn't recover from the enveloping sadness of being quasi-orphaned.

Since I couldn't reach out to him, I wrote him a letter. I was sad when I started writing it, but the act of putting my thoughts down transformed my mood and gave me hope for the future. I hope this letter helps you somehow:

My dear Nikhil,

Today is the first day of the 31st year of your life. I wasn't thinking about this specifically, but it dawned on me this evening that it was 15 years ago that I left for Pilani. That's half your life! It has been that long since I celebrated your birthday with you. Of course, I am not counting that first trip you made to Pilani as a birthday surprise for me, and the one time I came back home and we had a party at Karma. I do wish that some day, hopefully soon, we'll live near each other and can celebrate some joyous occasions together. But this isn't a time for regrets or remonstrations; instead, this is a time for celebration, so let me banish such pointless thoughts and get on with what I wanted to say to you.

In the interest of being transparent, I want to admit - there was a time when I was worried about what you would do with yourself. Don't get me wrong - I always knew you to be a standout person of good character. Where I thought you were lacking was in your willingness to succeed, to persevere and see a task to completion. I make long-term bets, and I was hoping that you would be one of those late bloomers - start slow, but finish strong. And I can say with a measure of confidence that you have just about hit your stride; couldn't have been better timing...

Nikhil, it has brought me immense satisfaction and filled me with pride to see you become the man you have. I saw the transition take place before my very eyes, and it vindicated the faith everyone had bestowed in your innate abilities. I have said, and I maintain, that you're the better man among the two of us. You are loyal, trusting and honest, and if you believe your best interests are taken care of, you endeavor selflessly. These qualities are the mark of a dying breed of men - gentlemanly yet worldly. Stay on this path; you might not get as far ahead as some of your contemporaries, but you'll be happy when you arrive at your destination, as will be the souls you have touched along the way.

The first 15 years of your life were spent in school. The next 15 in becoming a man. I am not going to ask you to invest the next 15 in any pursuits that anyone else believes you should undertake. Instead, I suggest you use the upcoming years to chart a map of the rest of your life. I believe the time has come for Nikhil to decide what he wants to become. It's time he asked himself some difficult questions because the answers will inform the decisions he makes going forward. Why? Because you're at a crossroads Nikhil; where you go from here is entirely up to you. You're not going to be alone though. Rest assured that I will be there for you, in all the ways I have been in the past, and in every conceivable way I can be in the future.

All my love,
Manoj

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