Happy Birthday! First of all, I want you to know that your mom, brother and I love you very much. Indeed, all of us are very proud of you.
I know we are not perfect parents, but we have done our best to help you make your way through these difficult growing-up years and prepare you for the future. I also want you to know the intense joy your mom and I felt when you came into this world. I thank god for sending you to us complete with a beautiful dimple on your cheek.
As you set out on your teenage, I would like to share a few lessons I want you to think about and hopefully remember for the rest of your life:
Education: Education doesn’t mean just getting good grades in school. Education is about having the right knowledge and skills so that you become a useful member of the society. Never allow a bad teacher or a bad day in school come between you and your pursuit for good education. As a young man facing a highly competitive 21st century, you must have a good combination of knowledge, skills and motivation. Without the other two, none of these three attributes are meaningful.
Values: Your mom and I have always tried to teach you the difference between right and wrong. Whether it is your whistling inside the house or sitting (im) properly in a gathering, we have tried to show you what is proper and what is not. Never lose touch with your values for they define who you are. For example, I believe in punctuality and I never keep someone waiting once I agree on an appointment or engagement. A set of good values will enable you to stand out from the crowd.
Drugs and substance abuse: You know that your dad engages in occasional social drinking. Given the gregarious culture that you have been nurtured in, I can only wish that you will grow up to be a teetotaler. But then that is wishful thinking and I am practical enough not to imagine that you will never drink. Lets make a deal - the day you return home a successful young man (say, eight years later), if I am still alive, we will raise a toast together!
Never get into drugs and substance abuse. These are terrible things; they will destroy you and take away your manhood and dignity. Only the weak and feeble engage in bad things like drugs and I believe that you are too good to do that. Use your curiosity to be creative and useful, never to use drugs and harmful substances.
Hard work: As they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch in life. There is always someone who pays for what you might consider as free. Work hard and you will be rewarded. No matter what you hear later in life, I promise you there is no easy path to riches and there is no substitute for hard work.
Responsibility: You have heard your mom and I say this a million times: “You need to be responsible!” If you are involved in an activity or a project, act responsibly and be a doer, if not a leader. If you make a mess, clean it up. If you say you will do something, do it. Procrastination is the thief of time and never allow your attitude to steal your success.
Friendship: Be true to yourself and your friends. Hang out with people who share your values. If your friends get into wrong habits or go down a wrong path, stand your ground and do not follow. They say that if a friendship lasts seven years, it will last a lifetime. I suggest you to count your friends and not the years!
Religion: Do not criticize any religion and be tolerant of people’s faiths. Believe in kismet, destiny and karma. If lighting a butter lamp or visiting a temple gives you peace of mind, do so.
Love: You will meet lots and lots of girls in your life. Treat them all with dignity and respect. When it comes to selecting a girl to be your life partner, care more about her inner beauty than her outward appearance. With your dimpled good looks, I think you deserve the best – both inwardly and outwardly.
I will stop with these eight lessons. Your mom and I want one more important thing for you. We want you to be happy. Really, truly happy! You know what? You can’t be truly happy unless you have joy. Do you know where joy comes from? Joy will come if you practice the above-mentioned lessons in your life.
Keep this letter with you, always – so that long after I am gone, it will remind you that you had parents who loved you much.
With all our love,