My dear son,
I shall tell you a story. No, not a story, but an incident, which happened 22 years ago. You were in my stomach and were in a hurry to come out. We had only tapioca [a cheap staple food, used to be the lifeline for poor people during those days in Kerala http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tapioca] since the last four days. This was due to the simple reason that there was not a single grain of rice at home. You were not letting me sleep. I felt hungry, weak, fatigued, and feverish. Around midnight I woke up your father. I scolded him. I told him that he had no idea of the pain of a woman about to give birth to a child and that he could not even give me a little kanji (rice porridge). He just looked at me pathetically and apologetically. Where will he go to fetch some rice in the midnight?
He lighted the kerosene lamp and went up on to the machu (a false ceiling made of wood, which is common in most houses with tiled and slanted roof. Machu is usually used for dumping old and disused material as well as for storing bulk items such as bags of rice, coconuts, etc.). He searched for some time and came down with a handful of rice that he collected from there. He cleaned it and made kanji for me. After taking it, I felt somewhat relieved. I looked at him. He too was looking at me. His eyes were wet and I saw a drop or two of tear there. Your father was very strong mentally and physically. I had never seen him crying. But now … I could not hold back my tears. I wanted to apologize to him for telling him something which I should not have. But I just cried and cried.
And then slowly I fell asleep.
And the next morning you were born.
You are probably wondering why I am telling you this story now. This is only to remind you that you should not forget the path you travelled. You should always remember your past. Also remember that you are not born to rich parents.
As for my permission for purchasing a bicycle, consult Sreedharan and Narayanan [my cousins with whom I was staying in Delhi during mid-1970s when my mother wrote this letter] and seek their opinion. Sitting here I have no idea of the situation there. Do as they advise.
This was my mother’s response to my request for permission to purchase a bicycle to attend shorthand classes in the morning before going to office.
After thirty five years I still remember most of what she had written. If I close my eyes, I can still read that Inland letter. I have no idea how many times must I have read it and witnessed the events that happened a day before my birth. And every time it ended with tears flowing down my cheeks (just like it does now).
(A brahmin is said to be dwija or twice-born. Hence the title.)