Vidya Kumar is the Co-Founder of Cloudnine, and the mom of a bright, inquisitive teenage daughter, Adithi, and an ambitious 22-year-old son, Karan. Having brought her children up initially in England and Australia, she harboured reservations about how they would settle into their new life in India, upon the family’s return to their homeland. Yet, her children adjusted beautifully. On Adithi’s sixteenth birthday, she penned a letter to her, encompassing her thoughts of the years gone by, what she hoped for the future and everything in between. Read on.
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Happy Birthday to you, my sweet sixteen-year-old. Where did the years go? It seems like just yesterday that your dad and I were waiting to meet you, anxious to know what you looked like. We had so many questions. Now, here we are, sixteen years later.
In two short years, you’ll be packing your bags for college. You’ll be voting and driving. You’ll be thinking about adult topics like careers and boyfriends. Our relationship is changing; no longer do I need to oversee your every decision. My role is shifting from a benevolent dictator (a nice one, of course) to a loving advisor, as you take on more and more responsibility for your own life. But before I give up the reigns of everyday parenthood, I’d like to pass on a few thoughts to you.
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You know that it is unusual for me to express my feelings in writing. And yet, I felt like putting my thoughts down on paper, because you have set such high standards for us in the last few years. You have created beautiful videos and cards for all our birthdays, so let me at least try to make a small attempt in return.
Adithi, where do I start describing you? You have been such a delight to have, from the day you were born. You fulfilled all my aspirations of having a little girl to dress up, to take to dancing lessons. When you were born, your dad picked up every single pink accessory in the shop. You were a wonderful surprise and Karan was glad that he now had a sister to replace him in the dancing lessons that I had forced upon him.
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We have told you numerous times that you are a powerhouse of talent. There are girls who excel in a particular sport or music or subject, whereas you have diverse interests, and you excel at all of them. You’re involved in sports, ballet, Attakalari, drama, piano and Indian classical music. And yet, immersed as you were in all these extracurricular activities, you were a school topper, getting seven A* and one A in 10th grade!
Your unending energy and interest to try your hand at everything perfectly continue to amaze me. You play the part of a tomboy and that of a pretty princess with equal finesse. You have been at your new school for hardly three months now, but in the parent-teacher meeting, your teachers made a special mention about your thoughtfulness, politeness, hardworking nature and potential to excel.
You are a perfectionist like your dad and stubborn like me, but all in all, you are a delight to have. You share such a wonderful rapport with Karan, even though he is 6 years older than you. I love the fact that you both spend so much time together and are so close to each other. I am also so proud of the way you have imbibed whatever Indian culture you have been exposed to since we came back from Australia, to the point that you even defend it in conversations. The way my parents brought me up laid the foundation for me to raise you as an independent, young girl. I am glad that you got to know my parents, especially my mother, whom you saw handle her myriad health problems with dignity, her chin up and a smile across her face.
I know you are going to achieve great things in the future and that you will always be rooted in your values. You are our confused bundle of talent right now, but you will discover your career path very soon, so don’t fret over it, my darling daughter. The sky is your limit, and regardless of what you do in the future, don’t compromise on the values of fair play and honesty. Don’t cut corners or compromise to achieve your dreams.
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Remember, as Papa always says, you must take the good and the bad in your stride and face both, equally boldly. Your innate goodness is already shining through, Adithi and I feel so proud to have you as my daughter.