Letters To Sons: Inshra Shakhawat Russell

To one year old Ruben,

Hustling with you to keep your legs straight during nappy changes and scolding you for stubbornly reaching for the toilet brush, I forget how little you still are. To know that one day you will fit into those big sized shirts tucked away in the drawer and grow out of them is astounding.

If you grow up and misbehave with me I will lock you in the bathroom and never let you out. Now that we have clearly established that rule, here are two things for you to remember:

1) Girl, boy or anything in between - first and foremost we are human beings.
Everyone is made up differently and you will spend your life understanding how to best interact with them individually. Stereotyping, categorising and comparing will make things easier, but will never show you the real picture.

2) Language is a tricky surprise- when you choose your words you must be wise.
People fluctuate between identities and may describe themselves as this or that (ie feminist, masculinist, equalist, surrealist). We are shaped and defined by the rhetoric we use and what we say shapes our environment. Knowing who you are is a challenge you will enjoy through your whole life.

There is an endless wellspring of books, songs, movies and art to guide your discovery. For films, music, art and fashion- look to the East and the rest of the world instead of just the West and Hollywood. The easily marketable and readily available stuff you will be bombarded with is often garbage disguised as gold.

Everything you will hear and see is an opinion that belongs to someone or the other. Your dad and I are really looking forward to sharing all our favourites with you. You however, have the freedom to have your very own – favourites AND opinions. I can’t wait to find out what they are.

I love you forever,
Your mom, Inshra

By Inshra Shakhawat Russell, illustrator and writer