If I know you at all (and, despite the years that have intervened between us, I daresay I do) you’re going to skip to the end of this letter and read the last line first. At this point in time, I haven’t yet penned that line, so I suppose in a way that sets us on equal footing.
I’m sorry to say I can’t bring myself to fill the page with the prettiest of lies–I suspect you might believe them and, if I may be presumptuous (ask Mrs. Bahel what that word means; it was she who told me) you have enough unfulfilled expectations to look forward to without my adding to that list. To give advice would, of course, be to invite you not to follow it. You leave me few options.
(Don’t worry–and this sentence will irritate you–if you don’t understand everything I’ve written. Some of it isn’t worth understanding and understanding itself enjoys a reputation it doesn’t deserve.
But then you’re the boy who prides himself on dismantling magician’s tricks and science experiments, who reads those books full of rhyming insults nobody could ever hope to use and treasures those days when yours is the lone hand raised in response to a question. Know-it-all.)
We don’t really grow up. I’d like for that “we” to be all-inclusive, but I don’t have anybody else’s experience to speak from. There isn’t a day when everything changes. Nobody becomes an adult, shedding their childhood as a snake would its skin. You probably imagine (when not occupied with more important concerns) the you of the grown-up world: taller, more confident, decked out in an impressive suit and crisply ironed shirt and preparing to embark on another day as a secret agent or private detective. At any rate, that’s what I imagined.
You put the suit on. There are buttons upon buttons to fasten. You learn to tie the tie. Being an adult is like morning assembly: it’s nine-tenths ceremony, one-tenth attendance. You’ll find very few friends . Adulthood will instill certain habits. Confidence can be acquired. You can pick and choose which mannerisms to cultivate, which to sustain, and tell yourself they arose spontaneously.
In the same way, some things (attachment to stuffed animals, glee at mixing every available flavour of soft drink) will slowly fade, but dendrophobia will take a little more time. Don’t–remember there are entire parts of yourself you can easily allow to die in the name of…what name was it again?
I’m not telling you you shouldn’t learn to let things go. But be careful what you choose.
P.S. This is not in code, but you’re welcome to attempt to decrypt it.
P.P.S. I told you so.
P.P.P.S. Enclosed is Rs 20. Please put it toward bribing the school barber to get you a presentable haircut.
P.P.P.P.S. If you spend it on mutton from Rajganj, I will know.