At the time of writing this letter to you, we had just returned from our 15 day long vacation to celebrate your 5th birthday together. Nani, nana and I had met you and daddy after 1 whole year, and what a fun time we all had! From your endless chatter to your constant attempts at teaching nana the colours of the rainbow, from you finally learning how to swim to your lessons to nani about how she should live her life and just let go, it’s safe to say that some of our best memories were created in the 2 weeks that we spent together. When we returned from the trip, I was having a conversation with a friend about how fast you’re growing up (you are, by the way, my favourite topic of discussion ;)). Amongst many of the things we spoke about, there was one thing she said to me that really stood out. She said, it sounds like Armeen’s going to be an achiever for sure! That one sentence filled me with so much pride, with so much emotion, because it reminded me of the greatest achiever I know – your mamma!
Happily posing with the beast!
You can never have enough of those cuddles from nana and nani!
Your mamma, or bein as I call her, was someone who always knew what she wanted and would make sure she figured a way out to get it. Her interests in life were very varied, and rather unique if I may add. At the time when a lot of her friends would train hard to win medals at the inter house and inter school athletic competitions, bein was more in love with the idea of developing calf muscles to flaunt. The only problem was that she absolutely detested any activity that demanded even the slightest bit of physical exertion, and calf muscles don’t just grow by chilling in bed all day! So, as much as she hated it, she went out and enrolled herself with the best coach in town and while her friends would train for serious athletics, she would jump around in the hope that one day those calf muscles would grace her legs. She’d go happily for his evening sessions where he’d make her run ridiculous amounts of rounds, and she did it all for the love of the muscle! In all my years of growing up with her, I guarantee you I had never come across a person who was more lazy, so it came as no surprise to me when she finally declared it was just too big a price to pay and that she looked so good anyway! But try she did, and we must all give her huge brownie points for that ;)
Playing badminton in her flip flops - because anything is better than running!
Another one of her obsessions was that with horses. Every Sunday evening, Nana and Nani would take us to Bandstand to ride the horses, followed by dinner at Chopsticks and ice cream at Yankee Doodle’s. One day, she decided she wanted to learn how to ride the horse herself and so she signed up for horse riding classes at the race course. And what a good looking jockey she made! She did learn how to ride the horse eventually and then we’d go to Matheran for the holidays where she’d proudly flaunt her skills with her favorite animal.
After the calf muscle and horse riding bug had passed, she decided she was destined to be a swimmer! She signed up for swimming classes and learnt quickly, like a fish takes to water. She absolutely loved it and till the end, the beach (Goa especially), was her favourite place in the world, because of the sand and the sea. Her first medals were won in the swimming competition held in school and till date those medals hang in her cupboard as one of her most prized possessions. It always gave her great joy then, to see your love for the water and how excited you would get about splashing around in the pool. She would be so proud of the way you swim today and I can imagine her sitting on the sidelines, with a drink in her hands, cheering you on as you dive fearlessly into the water and swim to the finish, with the exact same grace as hers.
That's you in Bali - diving fearlessly into the deep end of the pool!
Chilling on the beach!
The 3 medals she won at her first ever swimming gala!
And then one day, when she had had enough of sports, the inner musician in her came alive! She convinced the parents to buy her a guitar and signed up for guitar classes. She’d religiously practice her tunes and sometimes try and teach me how to read and write music. The two of us have spent long nights singing our favorite songs out loud and wondering why on earth we’re not on Indian Idol! Rhythm house – one of the leading cassette and cd distributors back in the day, probably made its maximum business from mama. She would always be up to date with the latest bands, songs, movies and music and would have her choreographed dance numbers ready in case of any family emergencies (impromptu performances demanded at parties, weddings, social gatherings, etc.). She really did love her song and dance and nothing made her happier than going on long drives with her favorite music on. She had an undying love for Coldplay, Fix You being no. 1 on her list. Her ipod was filled with over a thousand songs, all ranging from the old melodious ghazals to the latest Bollywood numbers, from the classics to the latest American top 40, her taste in music was varied and universal. We see much of this love for music being passed on to you, your ability to recognize and appreciate songs amazes us every single time!
Her first guitar!
Your mamma has always been one of the best communicators in the family. Her control over the language, her diction and the way she’d articulate, were all spot on. It is no surprise then that she always dreamed of a career in the field of communications. She loved meeting new people and striking conversations. She started working at a very young age at an advertising firm in order to learn more about the industry. While nani was eager on sending her to medical school so she could learn the sciences and hopefully one day become a doctor, she was adamant on joining a college that taught her the different ropes of communication. She went on to pursue her MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communications, one of the top colleges in India, and from then on, it was all an upward graph where her career was concerned.
Sam with a bunch of friends at the SIMC campus
With colleaugues (and some of her best friends) at the NDTV studios on a work assignment
One of her greatest achievements was landing the job as Director of Communications at The Village Network, a not for profit organization in the US that works with troubled children. I still remember the day she was offered the job. She was at home in India with you and checking her emails to hear back from the places she had applied to. When she read the acceptance letter from the organization, she gave us all details about her new job and said it was everything she had ever dreamed of. She was to cut short her trip to India and leave in the next couple of days to start work at the earliest. She was ecstatic to start this new phase of her life in a land that was still relatively new to her, with you and daddy, and she finally felt like her life would now be complete. The look of joy on her face on that day, more a look of relief, is one that I will never forget. 2 years later, when she was lying in her hospice bed, preparing for her final journey, her boss came to visit. He used one word to describe her and that alone speaks volumes of her contribution to the work. The word he used for mamma was “irreplaceable”. We knew there and then, that Sam had given her all to her dream job and had left no stone unturned to make a positive impact on the lives of the children with whom the organization worked.
Sam in the papers!
So Armeen, the point of writing this rather long-ish letter to you is to remind you - through various excerpts from your mom's life - that whatever it is your heart desires, to go out there and give it a shot. When you read this, I want you to ask yourself one question – when was the last time you tried something for the first time ever? My darling, you’ve been blessed with wings to fly, and in keeping mamma in your heart, you have the best propeller to help you soar. Go out there and try new things every day. Dream, explore, reach for the stars. You’re never going to know what this beautiful life has in store for you till you don’t get up and check it out for yourself. Your mamma did everything that she ever wanted to do, without worrying about the results. What mattered most to her was her own happiness, and the fact that there was nothing else she would rather do, or no place she would rather be, at that particular time. So don’t be afraid to dream and never be afraid to fail, because it is only through failure that the stepping stones to success are carved.
Thats you almost at age 2! Chalking out your big plans for the future!
Dream, achieve and inspire – just like your mamma did all through her life.