Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Thoughts, not Things

How many times have you been in a conversation that goes like this…

You know what happened last week?


I had a car accident.

There are two ways a conversation like this can move ahead…

1.     Oh My God, what happened to the car?

2.     Oh Damn, are you ok?

While I know you would be thinking, that you always first ask if the person involved is ok,
but you will actually be surprised in reality that a lot of people inquire about the car first.


Last week, I really had an accident.

It was one of those heavy rainfalls and strong winds that caused it. A tree fell on my car and crashed the bonnet and the windshield.

Luckily most of the engine was untouched, the A/C etc wasn’t affected, and the damages at the garage were pretty manageable. I didn’t even claim insurance, as I didn’t want it to get complicated.

Oh yes, I forgot to tell you if anything happened to me.

I’m fine. Nothing happened to me at all.

You see, we ourselves put ‘things’ before us, many a time.

But kids are different...

Last week, when I did have an accident, the first thing Samaira asked when she learned about it on the phone was if ‘I’ was fine.

If “I” was fine.

She asked, not once. Not twice. Not thrice.

In spite of repeated assurances, that I was ok, she still doubted it, until she saw me fit and fine, back home that evening.

Besides me welling up, it also made me think, how are kids so sensitive?

And why, as we grow up, do we lose this sensitivity and get more worried about the things, in this case, the car?

Often, Swetal, my wife and I, have been accused of being not so great parents because we spoil and pamper our only child. Yes, we give in to her demands, succumb to her tantrums, fall for her emotional traps and still don’t learn.

On second thoughts is that a bad thing after all?

Somewhere I now felt, that when we fulfill small demands for things, we undervalued these ‘things’ altogether.

Things - like a toy, a candy, an extra ride on the Ferris-wheel, a new pair of shoes, missing a class for an extra hour nap in the morning.

If we fulfill these little demands by our kids they will sooner or later realize that these are not the actual things one should strive for. 

There are bigger, more valuable aspirations - than objects.

You obviously have to draw a line on this somewhere, but that's a debate for a different day.

Today, we all work hard so that our children can live a comfortable life ahead.

A life, where they are not yearning for necessities. A life where they can focus on their education, have a thriving career, doing good for the society and yes, being aspirational enough to even making our nation proud too.

In that kind of a life, what value do ‘things’ have?

The problem starts with us.

Giving too much importance to things.

Yes, I am guilty.

A spank, if they drop a cell phone and dent it.
A punishment, if they lose a pencil or a water bottle.
A warning, to be careful when they are wearing expensive clothes.

How many times do we do the same, when it comes to dealing with elders, with friends, with younger ones, with the environment, with natural resources…..and yes dealing with us, parents also?

Imbibing the thought of calling their friend, and not messaging, on their birthday.

Standing beside them at a funeral and not avoiding the situation.

Encouraging their peers when they have had a bad patch, without giving advice.

Respecting the choices their parents made for them, knowing and appreciating their sacrifices.

Thoughts, not Things, is what we need to make our children more aware of.

Not the brands they wear, not devices they own, not clothes, not anything that doesn’t add real value to life.

I’m not saying that I won't buy these things. If I can afford it, I will continue to splurge on the little luxuries. 

But will I continue to give the same importance? Maybe that part needs a rethink.

A drawing by my daughter Samaira (6 years), guided by my wife, Swetal)

I believe that if I can raise a child that can be sensitive to the poor, helps the underprivileged, cares for stray dogs and other animals, grows plants and trees, conserves the environment, improves our city,  works for our country's larger goals…
I will have achieved my role as a parent.

These are exact things that will matter when they all will grow up without the worry we have, of a good home, regular income, education, career etc.

The real wealth in days to come will be real friends they can count on, elders they can look up upon for advice, siblings that will lend them an ear, an environment that is clean and healthy, a country that they are proud of.

Coming back, (I'll give myself some importance now, and go back to the dramatic topic of death)

Imagine, if something did happen to that person in that car accident...

Would all those ‘things’ they have, matter?

Will a bigger house, feel emptier?

Will a faster car, have any place to go?

Will a flashy cell phone, wait for a call from ‘Papa’?

A world where every child grows up to be thoughtful will be
a world where everyone might not be rich, but where every one of them will be wealthy.

Bolo Baba Aleem ki Jai!



  1. Very well said, Aleem. Wish every Parent echoes the same and strives to work towards it.

  2. Very well written. On dot for how to bring up children so that they meaningfully contribute. Keep writing. Best wishes


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