BENGALURU: When Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla died on December 9, 1971, it was wartime and the fleet service, which coordinates mail between the defence forces and the civilian Indian Post Service, was shut down. So his 14-year-old daughter Ameeta Mulla got his last letter to her many weeks later.
And it was like a voice from the grave telling her, “It gives me great happiness to know that you are doing well, rather than seeing you.” She felt it was poignant, almost prophetic, because he would never see her again.
In a first, well-known educationist and principal of Springdales School, New Delhi, Ameeta shares with TOI her father’s last letter home.
Here’s the text of the letter:
My dear worm,
(Ameeta tells us she had complained bitterly about the food at her boarding school in Shimla in her earlier letter, saying the food was not fit for worms)
I was disappointed to see your report. There is no reason why you should not score more than 90% in each subject; especially in art. (Ameeta recalls that was a day and age when parents were never satisfied and even A+ and distinctions didn’t elicit praise) I can say this to you with confidence because I have done so in my time; when education was much more exacting. Develop your powers of application and concentration; let not your mind constantly wander into the realms of fancy and fantasy as an uncontrolled, unbridled mind is prone to do. These are the formative years of your life and the impress and impact of all things on your mind, will mold you into the person who will inherit this earth.
There is a time for every purpose under the sun. (Ameeta recalls her father loved all the holy texts, be it the Bible, Quran or Bhagwad Gita. And this line was from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3 — To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to reap, and a time to sow) And right now you should use your powers of application and discretion; and your sole aim should be to imbibe knowledge. Life, laughter and love will come later. For those who fritter away their formative years, in unfruitful and unhealthy pursuits, life and laughter never arrive. Their future is for ever blighted. This is the inexorable law of causation which to us Hindus is the law of karma.
I dare not guess within this life; of error, ignorance and strife, where nothing is but all things seem and we the shadows of a dream. Ensure by your conduct that the dream does not transform itself into a nightmare. And remember the honour of the Mullas. And now from the sublime to the ridiculous let’s talks of affairs mundane.
I am glad that the food there is fit for the worm. I think it’s excellent training and considering that 90% of the country lives without food. I am also glad that misguided young ladies are kept away from outings in the Mall; promenading up and down in revolting apparel. It is important that you are not amidst the motley crowd’s ignoble strife.
Mummy has gone to Bangalore and I cannot come to Shimla because I am sailing. It gives me great happiness to know that you are doing well, rather than seeing you. Unless the both can be combined. With all my loves and blessing,
Madhendra Nath Mulla