SWEET SIXTEEN 11

He would counter by saying that the reason he did not want to share a room with her in the first place was that he did not want to compete for space with all her shoes and bags that seemed to be increasing by the day as if she was Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of Philippines, who was said to have owned more than 3000 pair of shoes.

Mum would insist that she was better than him, after all she didn’t clutter her bed with her shoes and bags the way he did with his books. Even that morning, Daddy had a couple of books open, face down on the bed. He was the only person I knew who read several books at the same time.

By the way, it is time you read this book,” he said as he returned to his seat with Gibran’s book, The Prophet. When I first saw the book in the library, I thought it was about Prophet Muhammed. But Dad said it was not, and that I should read it myself someday. He ruffled through the pages slowly, his eyes darting left and right.

He soon found whatever he was looking for. “Here, read, from ‘Your children . .”Fie pointed out the spot he wanted me to read from. I read aloud, slowly. “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies, but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.” I flipped the page to continue, but he stopped me. “That will do, for now. But do you understand what he is saying?” he asked. “This Ka-hl-il Gibran is a very wise man,” I said, struggling to recall the first name.

I had to quickly check the cover again, to get it right. “I think I now understand why you always sound like you know everything. It must be these books that you read.” “Aww, c’mon, Aliya, nobody knows everything,” he said, laughing as he waved off the compliment. “In fact, the more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know.

But you are right.There is so much wisdom in books. Through a single book, you could experience many lifetimes and many worlds. When I think of the generation of my parents, I feel sorry for them. Most of them did not have the opportunity to go to school, so they never learnt to read. Can you imagine, so much knowledge everywhere, yet some people cannot access them. This is why I even fear for your generation.

Most of you can read, but you do not read. Very sad. Instead, many of you waste your time liking up yourselves on Facebook instead of reading real books. I shouldn’t be surprised though. Many years ago, Albert Einstein predicted this moment. He said a day would come that technology would surpass human interaction and the world would have a generation of idiots. I think we are there now.” “But I am not an idiot,”I protested. “Of course, you’re not. And that is why we are having this conversation. But you must never stop reading and learning. That is the point.”

Yes, I understand,” I said with a nod. “But what did Gibran mean by ‘For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams’?” “I think he meant that parents should not try to determine the future of their children, much of which they-will not be a part of.

He also seems to be saying that life keeps changing and the world that our children would live in would be very different from our own in a way that we cannot even imagine.” “Is that the same thing he meant by ‘You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you’?”I asked.

Yes, in a way. It could also mean that even we parents have so much to learn from our children. Young people look ahead with hope, they see opportunities that they could explore. On the other hand, many adults look back with regrets, they see opportunities that have been missed. We have a different way of seeing the world. Certainly, it would be better for us if we can see the world more from the eyes of young people.” “I get it.

But why did Einstein say technology would turn us into idiots? Isn’t technology supposed to… like… make life easier for everyone?” “You are quite right. Look at the amount of knowledge available on the internet, for example. It is almost impossible to even contemplate. Yet, many young people nowadays cannot even spell words correctly on their own. Social media was invented by young people who re-imagined the world by out-thinking everyone else. Unfortunately, many of our own young people found the social media and they stopped thinking. That is the problem.” “That is it!” I said and snapped my fingers. “In that case, we cannot blame technology. We can only blame people who use it in the wrong way.” “Exactly! I knew you would get it.” I picked up the book again and flipped through. My eyes caught a couple of other interesting things. Even though it was written like poems, they were not so difficult. I saw something the author said about love: “When love beckons to you, follow him.

That sounds nice. “I think I should read this book,”I said. “Of course. I want you to read it. It’s certainly better than ‘ Twilight’ ,” he said, referring to the vampire populated romance novels by the American author, Stephenie Meyer, which he knew I liked to read.

I feigned embarrassment and covered my face with my hands. “But those books are good too, you know. It is not all the time one must read all this serious stuff.” “I agree.” He burst into laughter. “I know you don’t agree,”I said, wagging a finger. “No, I agree,”he said, throwing up his hands in surrender. “Anyway. Those books are more interesting. Let me ask another question, Daddy.” “Be my guest. Ask as many questions as you want.”

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