A Letter to My Granddaughter
My Aria, My Rosebud,
A few months before your birth your mother called to tell us that you were going to be a girl. “What a blessing!” I said as the images of my own two blessings surfaced in my mind.
As a young woman, I used to daydream about having a little girl of my own. My fortune doubled when we were blessed with two daughters: your mother Srimal (Garland of Happiness) and your Massi Zoon (Moon). Now some thirty years later, with your birth a fresh wave of delight has surged. You, Aria (Melody, Hymn, Song). Here is another opportunity for me to observe and experience your life, a young woman’s wonderful world, all over again.
As I write this, you are one year old, and I am at the threshold of the last phase of my life. I want to share an experience with you that has already sprouted a special kind of bond between us. We made our first connection, when I cuddled you, not even an hour-old yet and as fragile as a porcelain vase.
About a month later, I was laying on the brown sofa in your family room when your mother placed you on my bosom. I held you close to my heart, my right fingers spread on your silky black hair and my left hand cupped your feet. I felt your heartbeat and heard your breath. Soft warmth spread my whole body. I took a deep sigh and thought how blessed is a woman to be able to give birth to a new life! I remembered how I felt when I cuddled your mother and Massi in my arms. I imagined how my mother must have felt when she held me in her lap. This led me to think of all the mothers before her and all the yet-to-be-born mothers through and after you. In those few moments, I lived through centuries of maternal love.
When your mother and Massi were very young, I loved to “play” with them. Dress them up in frocks and booties, braid their hair and embellish it with colored ribbons and silver pins. As they grew older we read, painted, sang songs and played throw and catch with ball, and Pitthu. Being a new immigrant family in the United States I did not know many people .We spend most of our time together and because of our social situation our family bond strengthened even further. To this day, I consider your Mom and Massi my best girl friends.
The feeling of maternal love is hard to describe. So thank you my Aria for being born in our family and for reawakening that delicate feeling all over again. Love is so ephemeral, yet so real. It is like space in a clay jar. If the body is the wall of a jar, the space in it is the maternal love. The worth of walls is in the space they surround. When the jar breaks, nothing is left. Our bodies define the space that overflows with love. Love is the reason that makes life meaningful and worth living.
You are the best person to know yourself and discover your inner voice but you can journey the world with family and friends. Nana and I have experienced the peoples and cultures of the world by traveling. We feel these expeditions expand minds and open hearts. Together, we will journey the globe. We will travel to the shore temples of Mamalapuram and to the Himalayan valleys (where your mother, Nana and I were born). We’ll visit the Korean Peninsula (where your father was born) and travel within the United States (where Massi, Mokhta and you were born). World travel makes you understand that cultural barriers and racial discrimination are meaningless-these are individual inner locks that keep minds and hearts closed.
I cannot emphasize enough the significance of the body. It carries the wisdom of millions of years of human race. The wisdom that is waiting, willing, and wanting to guide you but only if and when you pay attention. Being aware of your interior is as essential as paying attention to your physical body. Nana and I both have experienced this and now is a good time for you to make this lesson useful.
By the time you read this letter you’d be an adolescent young woman-all around you so much potential, so many possibilities. But remember, never to step outside your self and shut the door behind you! As much as you stretch toward the outer world you must remain equally grounded within. Try to sit in silence and solitude for ten to fifteen minutes each day. And watch the miracle of your inner self unfold!
When I was sixteen my family landscape was very different from how it will be when you turn sixteen. In 1974, when your Nana and I immigrated to the United States, we did not realize that we were leaving behind our mothers and fathers. Some years later, when I longed for a large family I pictured the kinfolk we had left behind. But by the time your mother turned sixteen, I began to imagine the family we’ll have some day in future. Now, with your and Mokhta’s birth a new landscape, with its own beauty, has begun to emerge. A family of three generations, I had dreamed about, has become a reality.
Thanks to Mokhta (Pearl) and you for making my dream a reality. I’ll love you forever!