Earlier today we reported on the compelling letter which Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, penned for his newborn baby daughter, Max, which promised to better the world in which she will grow up.
In a similar vein to that of the world-famous internet entrepreneur, one mother from India decided to write a letter to her own son, urging him to play his role in improving the society in which we live.
Putting pen to paper in honour of her child's 13th birthday, one woman laid bare her aspirations for her 13-year-old as part of an online digital campaign called Breakthrough India.
Beginning the letter, the boy's mother acknowledged the disappointment he may feel at her birthday offering, writing: "I know, you have opened all your gifts by now, and are you frowning that I only gave you a letter? But darling, read this letter, it is more important than, anything that you have received today."
"You know, Darl, when I was 13, yes, exactly of your age, I used to ride bicycle to my tuition classes. For two years, a group of boys would follow me and Radha Maasi, each day. No matter what route we took, what time we walked out they would follow. That would make us so uncomfortable and scared," she revealed.
Opening up to her son about her experience as a young woman in India, she continued: "It happened in the bus I took to school after my 10th boards and in the streets of Delhi, which is the worst kind I have seen. I still have fear of a car slowing down, when I walk on the street. That’s the fear still I live in Delhi."
"And darling,, she continued "It’s not only my experience. It’s an Indian experience. 90% of Indian women go through it each day. Imagine, how bad we feel."
In an effort to teach her son that the sexual harassment which is so prevalent in his own community should never be considered the norm, she pleaded for him to remember the importance we must place on each other regardless of gender.
"The world belongs to everyone and they have the right to live the way they want. That includes women too. The sky and the earth belongs to a girl as much as to a boy," she reminded him.
Reflecting on the impact his culture may have on his as he navigates adolescence, she continued: "You will see in the Hindi movies, how they show that it is okay to stalk a woman and how the woman finally falls in love with the guy. Here is a secret. No, dear, no woman ever like being harassed. And harassing a woman is never cute or romantic."
"If a woman says no, it means a no. No you don’t bargain. You don’t froth. You move on. You might be heart broken. But that too is a phase of life. You can cry and listen to mushy songs, but trust me that will too pass. Daddy too had his heartbreaks, so did your Maa, but that has not made us any lesser in life."
Using her relationship as a tool for her child's understanding, she continued: "Every relation that you will ever have should be based on consent. Daddy and I are together because we consented to be together. From consent comes partnership. And only with partners, you walk a long fulfilled journey."
Explaining that his future will include many pitfalls, triumphs and adventures, she encourages him to include women in this journey, but insists that they should never be anything less than equal.
"Baby, now that you are growing, you will meet more women. Here is what women are. No, they are neither a mystery to decipher, nor a damsel in distress, they are people just like your male friends are. They might be different, but that’s it. They are always equals. Be a great friend to a woman, be a great lover, husband or a father, that my son is the mark of a man."
Concluding the letter to her son as he takes his first step into his teenage years, she writes: "I hope you travel, you find wonderful women, become great friends with them, travel, have adventure, learn, unlearn, laugh, cry and finally when you come home, you realise that, it was all worth it."
In the letter which has touched the hearts of millions, she leave him with a few short words of advice, finishing: "You are a part of my and Daddy’s heart walking in the world, please treat yourself well and so is the girl you will meet, extent her the same camaraderie, partnership and grace that you offer to everyone, you will see how life grows to beauty and what a wonderful journey you make."
We can only imagine the incredible impact his mother's moving words will have on him as he matures and becomes the man she hopes.