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To my daughter, on her eighteenth birthday.






My darling daughter,

On this day eighteen years ago, I lay in the hospital, utterly overwhelmed. I had gone into labour unexpectedly. My gynaecologist had not yet reached the hospital as it was 5.30 am in the morning. You were in a tearing hurry to come out into the world. The doctor who was on night duty scurried  about in panic and urgency; It was a natural childbirth (but God—I had to have stitches which I won’t freak you out with now).
‘Are you qualified enough to handle my baby?’ I thundered at the doctor, in throes of  my  labour pain.
‘Yes m’am,’ she replied.
When they told me I had a baby girl, I wept in joy. When you are hoping, wishing and wanting something so badly, it is an incredible and a magical moment, when the wish is granted.
But the nurses on duty that night didn’t know this.

‘Don’t worry, you can try for a boy next time,’ the nurses said.
‘I ALREADY HAVE a boy. I soooo badly wanted a GIRL,’ I yelled through my tears.

This, my daughter was your welcome into this world. Where people presume girl-children are not welcome. That somehow boys are superior.

Do you know my darling, that even to this day, on an average, 2332 female foetuses are aborted on a daily basis?  Studies vary in this regard—but numbers are alarming, even if you consider the possibilities in the lower range. One group estimates that 10 million female foetuses have been aborted since 1990's. We’re in a country where girls are treated as ‘lesser’ and where they have to fight to even take birth.

You had no idea of any of this while growing up. You were (and still are) the baby of the family. Your older brother, your father and I doted (and still dote) on you.
Looking back, my friends tell me that they don’t remember a time when you were not perched on my hips. You refused to get off. I had to carry you everywhere. I would cook, walk, shop---all of it with you on my hips. You didn’t want to stay in the baby-sling or the baby-stroller like your brother did.  You decided that mom’s hips make a good sofa and that was your rightful place. If I tried to make you walk, you would scream and yell, till I picked you up again. You won that battle, hands down.

 Before you learnt to read, your favourite book used to be The Jungle Book and you made me read it so many times (must be more than a thousand?) that you memorised it.  Then you would pretend to read it. Your father was astounded. He thought you were actually reading it at the age of two. You even knew where to turn the pages. I still smile at that memory and I can still recite the Jungle Book, and I am sure you can too.


My favourite childhood memory of you is scaring the neighbour’s son Adi, with a knife when you were just 3 and a half. You managed to fool the house-help by telling her that I was asking for a knife. Then you hid it behind your back, and slowly made your way out, where you were playing with Adi.  The next thing I know, I hear a ear-shattering, terrified wail and footsteps fading away. Adi had run away screaming in fright.
Apparently, Adi had made a negative comment about our family. You asked him to shut up and he refused to. So you decided to do something about it. After smuggling the knife out, you threatened him saying his limbs will float in the canal outside, if he dared utter another word. Though I did my mommy duty and told you it wasn’t a good thing, secretly I was proud.  ‘That’s my girl!’ I thought.

In school,  for the annual  school day you were chosen as emperor Ashok, the lead role in the play. It was a befitting role and you played it to perfection. You had a natural flair for theatre and dance. I am proud of the trophies you won at the inter school dance competitions. I am also proud of all your MUN (Model United Nations) achievements where you have won best delegate so many times. You also made it to the school basketball team, and the school band, where you were the drummer.

You are a born leader. People gravitate towards you. You know how to manage people. You are so good at what you do, that you got into college at 16.  Right after class ten. Your portfolio was incredible--so outstanding that you straight away joined college, skipping class 11 and 12! In India we call it a ‘double promotion.’ 

You earned it; it was your dream college and you left home at 16. To pursue your dream.

 I let you go. I knew I had raised you to be strong, and even though I was worried, and sad, I knew you would be fine. I knew I had to let you go, and so I did.




And how you have blossomed and bloomed! I absolutely LOVE your work. I am very proud of you, and tell people proudly when they ask me about you.

On your eighteenth birthday, my darling, I want to tell you a few things (which you already probably know, yet I want to say it):

1.     NOBODY has the right to tell you what to wear, and what is ‘okay’ or not ‘okay.’ No one gets to decide this. Dress to please yourself!

2.      Your body is your business. The society doesn’t get to tell you what to do with it. You do not need the society’s approval for your weight or height or colour of your skin. Don’t ever be ashamed of your body. Be proud. 

3.     You can achieve ANYTHING! Do you know women were not even allowed to work till the Second World War? It was only as recently as 1960’s that women entered the workforce in large numbers When I wanted to join the Indian Air Force as a pilot, back in 1990, women were not allowed! I was outraged. Now the rules have changed.

4.     Don’t even bother about marriage and kids. Build your career first.

5.     Whatever you do, be financially independent. Depend on NO ONE. Let no one tell you where to live, where to work, where to go and what to do.

6.     If you do fall in love, wait it out. The best test of a relationship is TIME. You can have a great relationship without marriage, and you can have a marriage and still not have a relationship. WAIT and see what unfolds. Then decide.

7.     Travel, my darling, Travel. Go see the world. Explore. Meet new people.

8.     Read my baby, read. That is the ONLY way to grow your mind. I know you do read a lot, but try to up the ante. Try to stretch it a bit more than what you think is achievable. You will be so surprised to see how much MORE you can achieve.

9.     Be kind. Be kind to everyone you meet. Be sweet and polite, like you are. Don't ever change.

10.  Make art every day. Do things that make you happy. Spend some time alone. Listen to music. Sit in silence. Walk in nature.



There are a few hundred thousand more memories I have with with you and as you know, I have written them all in a book, which I have been writing in, even before you were born. Those are treasured ones, and I will probably gift that book to you on your twenty-fifth or maybe even later. I cherish the time I spend with you. How we laugh! I love the easy relationship we have where we can discuss anything--men, boyfriends, movies, TV series, art, life--just anything. I love how we can now trade clothes and exchange movie recommendations.



Today my precious, I wish I was with you; But since I am not, I am writing this to tell you that you light up my life. People tell me ‘Your daughter is lucky to have you as a mom.’ You know what I tell them? ‘Oh, but I am luckier I have her.’
I love you.
Be UNSTOPPABLE.
Be YOU.

All my love
Mom.

Ps: my book The Rule Breakers is dedicated to my daughter Purvi who turns 18 today.
 Also you can read all TRUE stories from my life (especially about my kids when they were smaller) in my book Love A Little Stronger








Comments

  1. Very good Preeti. Your daughter is lucky to have you as her mom. Dr Veena Adige

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    1. Thank you! I am fortunate to have her too.

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  2. So nice reading your advice Preeti!! I wish every mom is as open minded as you are and all daughters are as awesome as Purvi!! They say, "Behind every successful man, there is a women!!" But I will add "Behind every successful women, there is a woman"!! Happy Birthday Purvi!! Keep making your mother proud!!

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    1. Mother's support is STRENGTH! Those who have it are blessed

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  3. Happy Birthday Purvi!! Have to be so lucky to get a mother like Preeti Mam...may all the luck be yours through out untill next one comes...

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    1. I am lucky to have her too :) Thanks so much for the wishes

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  4. Preeti ma'am... This is just so a master piece... My eyes turned moist... It feels like this write up is for your own daughter but a tiny shout out to all young teens... A best birthday letter I have ever come across till date... Keep inspiring ma'am...
    Much love... Happy Birthday to your darling daughter...

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    1. This is indeed a shoutout to all teens. Thank you so much! Will pass on your wishes.

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  5. Wow! ❤️
    Happy Birthday 🎂

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  6. Awww.. that was so sweet and mind blowing at the same time.. such deep emotions..
    Birthday wishes to Purvi..
    And prayers to the whole family..

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  7. Happy Birthday Purvi������... 18th B'day is a special milestone and this write up is so perfect, I will share this to my daughter when she turns 18��...Having a supportive mom is definitely a treasure to cherish forever. God bless you both ��

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  8. Beautiful �� writing for your loved one is the best(est) gift I can ever think of... This is lovely. I know how happy my brother felt when I wrote leyters to him������

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    1. Indeed..I too feel very happy to get hand written letters.

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  9. Very very touching and straight from the heart write up. Enjoyed each line of the post mam

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  10. Beautiful. Wishing Purvi a very happy birthday and a blessed year ahead. 💐😍😘

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  11. Maam, what you have written to your daughter is such a nice one.. I really loved ever bit.. the last part of what advice you gave her is very very true and beautiful. This read is really a beautiful gift for her.

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    1. Thank you...but those ten points are for all the girls in India as well.

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  12. It's a special bond that spans the years. Through laughter,worry,smiles and tears. A sense of trust that cant be broken, a depth of love sometimes unspoken. A life long friendship built on sharing, hugs and kisses, warmth and caring. Mother and Daughter, their hearts as one. A Link that can never be undone.

    Wishing a very Happy Birthday to Purvi.
    This post left me spellbound and teary eyed.
    Thank you for touching upon the reality issues of the Girl Child abortion which is so true and the inspiring words from mother to daughter. I loved the few points which you put across to the daughter which is incredible and truth.

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    1. Thank you so very much! Indeed girls of India have to fight so much.

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  13. We need more mothers like you ma'am. She is lucky to get such nice life advice. A very happy birthday to her

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    1. Thanks a lot Swati! :) I think only when we are older we realise the value of it?

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    2. yes, with time life teaches us a lot.

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  14. I only read a few articles from you. But I always find value in them.

    Appreciable,
    Sumit

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    1. Thanks so much sumit. I hope you read my books too!

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  16. Happy Birthday Purvi, God Bless!

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  17. This is so beautifully written, especially the 4th point. Lots of respect Ma'am.

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    1. Thank you Yashwanth. I do feel most indian parents are in a hurry to get their girls married off.

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  18. Hi Preeti,
    Loved, loved and loved today's post. Me too being a mother of a girl, the feeling is surreal. First of all, many happy returns to your smart daughter. They are not words but a mother's heart melted into ink and embracing the paper to exalt the Mother-Daughter relationship. It's personal but amalgamates voice of every mother who is blessed with a daughter. Your ten precepts are like a book of 'Geeta" to be read out to all the girls out there. Some of whom cut through the chakrvyuh of abortion to be born like a warrior. Thanks a lot for this inspiring and enlightening post oozing with love in every syllable :)
    Love, Alka

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    1. Loved your response to this blog Alka! You sound like an author yourself with your articulation and the easy yet beautifully crafted responses. I wouldn't be surprised to see some books with author name as 'Alka Tiwari' in the near future ~ Indu.

      PS: I replied to your response to my response (This reminds me of a Taylor Swift song :))) to Preeti's Post on the importance of dressing well.

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    2. Awwe Indu thank you so very much for such a lovely remark. You made my day. I am smiling ear to ear now :) Well wishes from all are the wings that give us flight...Love your future picture of my name on a book...But a long walk to horizon before that. Meanwhile, I would love to have you on my blog...Please let your presence felt in my comment box in case you visit it. Thanks again dear!
      Love, Alka.

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    3. Thank you so much Alka! You are so encouraging and sweet.
      I loved the little exchange between Indu and you. This is was a good blogging community is all about.I shall go back and read the responses too.
      I am so enjoying interacting with you all here.
      I look forward to your comments.
      And alka--I do feel every Indian girl needs to hear these points. Parents somehow want to get their girls married off, even to this day.

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    4. True Preeti we need to talk about this more and more to do the bit from our side. Parents must realize that the birth of a girl child should not necessarily culminate into their daughters just being married off thoughtlessly. She too has immense possibilities as a human life on Earth.
      And yes, Blogging provides a beautiful platform to interact with like minded people and establish meaningful contacts. I am happy that I got to know more about you through your blog posts and met Indu too over here. Love to you both <3

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    5. These posts and comments are something which I also look forward to a lot these days :). Being very mindful of what I do these days, I have noticed that a smile comes to my face whenever I read these personalized messages! Kudos to Preeti for taking time to respond to so many of the readers AND noticing the exchanges between the Readers!!! She is simply awesome. And along with Preeti's blogs, I kinda look forward to your comments also Alka. Like Epilogues are to books, your comments add a special touch to Preeti's Blogs. I too am glad to have met you here. I will go and read your blogs too sometime.

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    6. Yes Indu its incredible how Preeti painstakingly replies to each and every comments. She values her readers so much. That's why readers like her back and read her books and blogs. Thank you so much for appreciating my comments here and placing them at such a high pedestal as an Epilogue. I am honored. You are welcome to my Blog anytime...I promise you won't be disappointed.

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  19. Happy birthday to Purvi 😊

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  20. I met her at a bookstore on one of your book tours of "A hundred little flames". I think it was during her vacation. But still she accompanied you and was sweet enough to click a picture of me meeting my favourite author.

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    1. Where was this Meghana? In Bangalore? (it probably was)

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  22. Hi Preeti,

    I woke up this morning reading this post and I can still feel the energy, joy and positivity even after so many hours of reading it. First of let me wish Purvi a very happy birthday on her 18th. You must be a blessed and proud mom to have raised two kind, happy and well rounded children through adulthood. This is one of the best blog posts I have read in a while with words of wisdom,love and inspiration weaved so beautifully into a heartwarming letter. As everyone else have put, Purvi is indeed blessed to have a mom like you and you in turn are lucky to have a daughter like her. I don't have a daughter,but I feel lucky to have my son. Children bring so much of joy to our lives and I thank my son for choosing me to be his mom (sounds silly but I do that :).We think we are raising our kids, but in many ways they are raising us to be better versions of us. May your letter be an inspiration for many other parents to let the children to make their own choices and decisions in life and in that process become who they are meant to be ~ Indu.

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    1. Thanks Indu! I feel really happy to know that you feel positive even after hours.

      And you know what--that's exactly what I used to tell me children too. That they 'chose' me to be their mom. It isn't silly when you think of it on a cosmic level--there's so much we do not know, and so much science has no answers for. Have you read Brian Weiss? Do read Many Lives, Many Masters. I have read all his books. :)

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    2. Hi Preeti,

      I am glad to hear you too believe in he same. I haven't read any of these books. Just added these to my list. This year I have a target to read 25 books. Plan to read at least one of these as part of it ~ Indu.

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  23. Happy birthday dear Purvi. Preeti, Do convey my wishes to her. Does she dance these days?? Would love to know what subjects she decided to pursue in college. I have such fond memories of teaching Purvi. Miss you all dear. Hope Atul is doing well too. Love to everyone at home. I know this is not a good forum to exchange numbers. Shall try sending you a pm on messenger maybe.

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    1. Oops.. that message was by me Shimmy

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    2. Hey shimmy! How are you? Yes, we will connect offline :)
      We've moved out of APR now.

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  25. Birthday wishes to your Princess. What better gift can she get today. The best gift any mother can give. Lovely! It reminded me of the day my own daughter was born. I was on tears. You have that power of touching the dewpwde strings of heart. Rulebreakers is only book of yours that I missed. Recently only I was out of the Hangover of Wake Up Life Is Calling.

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    1. Thank you Thank you :)
      Do read The RuleBreakers too. You will like it.

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  26. Happy Birthday to Purvi!!
    I also have a daughter turning eighteen soon.... and the points you have written are exactly what I want to tell her too.... I have fought many battles for her..... and now I am happy she is with me to fight the battles together...

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    1. Oh yes--as mothers so much we have to fight for our daughters.

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  27. Wow! You're such goals PS! You inspire the future mother in me. I'm so glad i came across your blog a few years ago! You have inspired me in so many ways. Keep going!

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  28. I read every book and every blog of yours. This by far has been the one that touched my heart!! I wanted a girl too, however my second one was a boy as well and i remember falling asleep immediately after!!! loved the words and the blog!! looking forward to more!

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    1. Oh you know--I also thought my second one will be a boy (as rarely do we get *exactly* what we want!) I had even selected baby names for boys :) Thank you so very much. <3

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  29. Wow! Such a warm and beautiful post, Preeti! First of all, let me wish dearest Purvi a very Happy 18th Birthday! It was wonderful to read about all your achievements. You have made your family very proud and have set an example for many girls around the world. Preeti - I felt like crying after reading this post. Honestly, it was so touching that I read it twice. You are an amazing mother and the bond you have with Purvi reminds me of the bond I have with my Mom. I do wish Purvi all the very best for a bright and successful future ahead. I do look forward to more and more of your posts. Have been away from the internet for the past couple of days, but I do visit the blog and read the posts if I am not able to reply. It makes me happy to visit your blog. Take care.

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  30. Mam.......hailing from a very conservative family it sounds so gud dat such moms also exist ,im so moved .....i just wish my mom would adopt just half of this

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  31. That's the mother daughter bond.Belated happy birthday to her🎂🍰🍮🍫🍩

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