March break … a time for renewal

For us, March break means renewal. Renewal of ties, bonds, and respect that roots a long lasting friendship. It is a time for us to cherish our family and reestablish our understanding of togetherness. There is always the usual drama, being cooped up in the car, father-son arguments, wife throwing up her hands in the air, but in the end, we all come together as a family. We know that we are stronger as one and our relations are stronger, as a result of the disagreements. We love March breaks!

Last March break was no different. We huddled in a car and set forth for the big city. As we left our tiny little Island, the first round of music started. Our rule is simple. Each person gets one turn for their favorite song. When leaving, my teenager is the DJ, when returning, my young one; it helps maintain the balance of power. After the music, we switch to games, such as ‘What Animal am I thinking off?’ or ‘Name all the car parts that start with a letter.’ These sessions of music or games may seem childish, but as a father, they serve as an insight to my children. It is like a path in a forest, widening, narrowing, curving, covered with lush green trees, rays of light shimmering through. This path shows me how my children are growing. Are they on a path that leads to a lake, with light dancing across the blue waters under the radiating sun, safely away from the dying wretched forest? Or are they heading towards the darkness which threatens to engulf the beam of sun afraid to break through the bleak clouds of despair?

No car drive is ever complete without a shouting match. A tired and hungry father telling his teenager how wrong he is, is certainly an indicator that its time to stop. At least, it was for me. Just past the six-hour mark, we got into a debate, which, mercifully, ended in ‘who will speak to the other one first.’ This time, my wife intervened and knocked some sense into us. We stopped for supper and later in the evening, with coffee warming the remote parts of my body, I extended an olive branch to my son. Mercifully, he accepted, and we had a wonderful discussion about a song we both enjoy. Mind you, he has no knowledge of the lyrics as they are in Punjabi and I barely speak the language, but each March break, we listen to it, break down the words and learn their meanings, then discuss. It is our lesson in the Philosophy of Life. The fringe benefit here is that my now 11-year-old is happy to participate and throw in his thoughts, which I find very refreshing.

We stopped in an old city that night. A city glowing with light shimmering from streetlamps onto the snow that blanketed the sidewalks. It was a late hour, almost tomorrow as the sky swallowed last of light and took on a blanket of darkness. We rejoiced at the magnificent views and thanked God for this wonderful experience. After a ten-hour drive, laughter and awe reigned in the car as we drove through the old part of town, and headed towards our temporary abode.

Having visited family later in the week and renewed our bonds, we headed back. All in the car, with music and games, laughter and smiles, disagreements and apologies, we arrived at home with a fresh appreciation. We had fought and mended our weakness, we had laughed and cherished our memories, and we grew together as a family, with love of God running through the fiber of our being. As I lay my head on a trusted old pillow that night, my thoughts drifted off to the past. In that very instance, my strength of belief increased many-fold as I reflected on the blessings that God has granted me. Drifting off into the gentle arms of sleep, I could not help but recall a teaching of the Holy Quran, “And He found thee in want and enriched thee.”

Till we meet again, keep shining, keep smiling … In God’s care.