Son's letter to his father on his retirement Dear Abalay,

By Lhundup Gyalpo Leh, May 24, 2014
Leh :
This is a letter that I write as a symbol of gratitude for every letter that you sent me as a child, for every moment of wisdom that you installed in me as an adolescent, and for everything that you did for me that today I have grown into a young man.

I still remember those days of my childhood, when we use to discuss those amazing concepts of life while you knead the dough for the supper to feed us. I still remember those little toys that you brought which never included a toy gun or anything that has to do with violence. I remember those lowest moments of my life when you gave me helping hands, and yet let me be myself and own my life.

As a child I use to take those gestures of yours for granted, as if they were mundane activities of my life, as if every child on this earth is endowed with such opportunities, as if that is how life unfolds between a father and his son. But later, as I grew little older, as I left your cozy lap, as I started exploring beyond your caring gaze that I realized how fortunate I was, how gifted my family was to grow in, and how wonderful those opportunities were that I came across through you.

Your eagerness to question and discuss almost anything fathomable with a mere kid has seamlessly installed in me the spirit of inquiry and dialogue. All those silly questions of mine that I posed to you always met with due consideration and respect from you. You were aware of the curious mind that was working hard behind all those little questions of mine, and you took utmost care to direct my inquiry to an optimal conclusion. Your openness to new perspectives always inspired me to look beyond the narrowness of different fields of study, thus allowing me to weave a beautiful world for myself in which everything is in harmony.

You never chained my ideas, thoughts and perspectives which later helped me to unchain myself of the existential obligations of Science, helped to me rise beyond the foggy patches of Religion, and it enabled me to navigate the maze of mundane and esoteric presentations of Philosophy. Today, those explorations have become the stepping stones of my growth, they have shaped the very personality of who I am, and they revitalize each day of my life. And most importantly, your humility for the unknown, your humbleness for the questions unresolved and acceptance of your fallibility, which is precisely what makes you a human, has left a mark of forgiveness in my mind towards myself and others.

I still vividly remember the incident when, as a kid, I asked you for a gun-toy. I was curious as to why my friends had such handsome toy guns while I was not. Why my father never got a gun for me despite bringing heaps of other toys. How much a gun toy would cost that my father couldn’t afford. To my query you replied with a straight no. I still remember the expression on your face at that instance; it reflected a purpose, a meaning. At that time I couldn’t appreciate the gravity of your concern, but today I much celebrate the fact that my father saw non-violence even in the matters of toys and made all the possible efforts to imbibe such great qualities in his sons. I think it was because of that impression that I never found myself embroiled into any violent act or behaviour ever since I left your abode as an 11 years old kid.

During my growing years, I have always found you at my side. I remember those days of my education when unforgiving competition drained almost all of my sanity that you were there to sooth my pain. I remember those little triumphs that ensued when you made me feel like a victor. I remember those moments when you made my dreams yours, and to redeem them you accompanied me to every pillar to post. In those gestures of magnanimity, you provided me the freedom to choose, opportunity to grow beyond myself, and thus the reasons to return and stay by your side when you need me in the dusk of your life. For all the things that you and mom have done, this letter is but a little effort from my side to express my thanks and indebtedness towards you parents. I shall prey to the three jewels that I get all the opportunities to serve you both in near future.

At this juncture of completion of one major stage of your life, I salute you for your exemplary life of service, teaching and guidance which the whole Ladakh would celebrate, in one or other way, for centuries to come. I congratulate you for living such a meaningful life that many could only dream. And lastly, I envy you that you found such a perfect soul mate in Amaly who made sure your life goes on as smooth as a skate. One last thing, of all the many rooms of our home, I was always attracted to your study with thousands of books and scriptures around, papers strewn all over the place and the red dustbin where your efforts saw their trails and errors. I wish I too could dwell learning, teaching and sharing!

I know I have taken this liberty to write a little eulogy of you, I know this is not your way of service, I know this is not how you would have done, but what to do I was the witness of your life, what to do I was carrying the burden of your little secrets, what to do I couldn’t stop my impulses of being your child.

How can I not acknowledge when many were building the structures of the society, you were quietly busy laying the very foundations? How can I not recognise when many where sewing clothes for their children, you were occupied weaving very fabric of the society? How can I ignore when many were taken by the bazaars you were the erudite to stick to that which is meaningful?

How can I forget when mother complains of you for not being able to ration a pair of shoes for her kid, for the winters, because you were busy designing text books for the kids of Ladakh? How can I fill the gaps of your absenteeism from the evening teas at home because you were busy teaching the locals? How can I forget when your path of righteousness, discipline and sincerity landed you and your family in many troubles? How could I miss when Ladakh was being tattered of fanaticism and communal sentiments, you were the man looked up to by all sections of the society for resolutions and reconciliation?

All these years I have searched every corner of this existence, I have looked into every recess of human knowledge, I have learnt many skills and trades, and I have concluded that any effort that doesn’t lead to peace is not worth pursuing, I have found any perspective that does not result into humanity is not worth considering, I have realised every action which does not culminate into happiness is a wastage of time. I have come to certitude that when one compares all the wits on one side and a ting of wisdom on other, the latter could steer the humanity to greatness, to genuine progress and flourishing. All these were possible because you sparked my curiosity as a child, because you enabled me with two eyes of modern education of West and traditional wisdom of the East, because you enabled me with the tools of English and Tibetan (Bhoti) Languages so that I could pierce through the stories they tell. Consequently, I had the opportunity to study phenomena which lay in as well as out of a human being, and I consider this rarest of the opportunities bestowed upon anyone. And for all these reasons, how could I have stopped my impulses of being your son?

I know even after you have hung up your shoes as a professional, you would not stop your bid. I know you would be even more engrossed into teachings; for now you are let loose of many obligations. I know you would wake up as the same person next day who saw purpose in his life irrespective of what he does, how he is or where he is. But to deliver my responsibility as a son I insist that now you must take rest of your life with ease and relish the taste of such a perfect life.

[My Dad retires today as Professor of Tibetan Language and Philosophy from Central Institute of Buddhist Studies, Ladakh (India). He has championed the Tibetan (Bhoti) language and associated philosophies, and is considered foremost scholar of Ladakh. He has more than 30 books and 100+ paper publications to his credit, not to mention plethora of poems, plays, short stories, songs, dairy logs etc. His service has produced finest of Professors and Teachers who today contribute to the society in their won capacities. His urge to contribute to the society has led to his association and contribution to different aspects of the society spanning more than 30 years of self-less service.  Of such contributions worth mentioning are his services as the Translator to H.H Dalai Lama for more than 11 years of his visits to Ladakh, as well as his successful role as provisional president of Ladakh Buddhist Association when he was roped in at the nick of time when a communal riot broke-out in Ladakh in 2002.]