My son turned 13 today and in keeping with our family tradition, I asked him to meet me in my room after dinner.
Curiosity was evident in his eyes, but he merely nodded. My wife and I had gifted him a course in kayaking. There was also a glint of excitement in his eyes, as he probably expected another surprise birthday present.
He walked into my room, with me, after dinner. With great ceremony, I opened the drawer on my table. I took out a small gift wrapped package and gave it to him.
He opened it with a lot of excitement. I could see his face falling, when he saw that it was an old, battered geometry box. There was a letter taped to the bottom of the box.
He looked at me, quite puzzled, waiting for an explanation.
I told him, “Open the letter.”
The letter ran into many pages. I told him to start reading from the last letter, dated 24th August, 1919, written by my great great grandfather to his son, on his thirteenth birthday.
My son quietly read all the letters, letters written by many fathers to many sons, to their sons. Nearly a century of family love there. Some letters were humourous, some were filled with love, some with dos and don’ts. But a great archive of our family’s history, its shared love, and a wonderful tradition. He finally came to my letter and read it.
He looked up, and asked, “But why the geometry box?”
“Oh, the geometry box was probably handy, when my great great grandpa wanted to get this going, what he also did was inscribe his name at the bottom of the box, with the date”, I said.
My son flipped the box and saw the metal engravings of his ancestors and laughed when he saw my name.
I also added, “The instruments in the set can be used even now. They are of excellent quality. After you are done with it, inscribe your name and pass it on to your son.”
He took his gift and walked out of the room. I know for a fact that 25 years from now, his throat will catch the way mine is now, when he writes a letter to his son, and wishes him well.