Before reading Letters from a Father to His Daughter you need to realise the fact that it was written for a ten-year old Indira Gandhi by her father Jawaharlal Nehru. Hence, it should be read adhering to the time, age and purpose, for which it was originally written for. Nevertheless, Letter from a Father to his daughter is still relevant in contemporary times. There are a few instances which made me love this compilation, although the content is known, since I am no longer ten-years old. (I won’t tell you how old I am though!)
#1 The Idea of Letter Writing
Today we have almost forgotten the idea of writing a letter. We have adapted to typing SMS’es , WhatsApp messages and e-mails. But letter writing was an art and it was personal as well. The emotion that can be attached on receiving a hand-written letter from your loved ones is surely missing on receiving an email or SMS, however well-written it might be. It is rather difficult to express your exact thoughts with minimalistic words through a letter. It is often said that an individual who has mastered the art of letter writing can write just about anything. I remember how elated I was when I received hand-written letters from my grand-mother and aunt while studying abroad. I still have them preserved somewhere in my cupboard.
Would you not have wanted to complete your science, social science and history syllabus through beautiful illustrative letters? The content of the letters are far more progressive for a child of ten-years. It not only outlines the evolution of mankind but also highlights virtues and values that need to be taught to a child. In fact, it gets difficult to make children understand the point without stating perfect examples. The same formula was applied by Nehru ages ago to tell the truth and instil good virtues in his daughter through these letters.
#3 Adheres to the then societal standards
Nehru brilliantly interspersed the evolution of society and man with societal norms and inconsistencies of a newly independent India. Comments like, “people do not realise even now, that fighting and killing each other are about the most stupid things that people can do. It does good to nobody”; or “If two men fight in the streets the policemen separate them. . . . But how much sillier and more foolish it is for great countries to fight each other and kill thousands and millions. “; tell us that Nehru was making Indira aware of the situation. Were the seeds of becoming a great leader being sown through these simple letters?
#4 Ignites Curiosity in Children
Letters from a Father to his Daughter ignites curiosity in the minds of a child through its narrations. Each letter can generate numerous questions and at times it might be difficult to satiate the minds of the children with your answers. While reading I realised that this can be a great contemporary children’s resource to tell them about the history of mankind. Given the fact that they are letters with word restrictions, you can always add onto the material with relevant facts, stories and illustrations. Should you think of using this as a resource for your child, be prepared for a bombardment of questions.
#5 Reflects a father’s love for his daughter
This is not a mere compilation of letters; it is a compilation of words and pages that reciprocate a father’s love. Nehru had been a political leader but he had never forgotten his duties as a father. Known to the world as ‘Chacha Nehru’ his birthday is celebrated as Children’s Day. Each letter can be seen as conversations that a father wanted to have with his child. But due to physical distances between them, these conversations have been spelt out on paper.
#6 Cover Different Topics
The letters cover interesting topics. From the origins of life to the early civilizations; from Chinese and Egyptian customs to the great Indian Epics- there is a vast reservoir of knowledge that ca be imparted to a child who is merely a decade old.
Letters from a Father to his daughter had for a long time been kept under wraps by the Gandhi family, till they decided to compile it and publish it for the children of the world. I personally liked the compilation and the simple and clear language of the letters. It is easy enough to make a child understand. In fact, this can be a good choice for a bed time read and to unleash the imaginative power of your child.