Father’s advice to his son
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

Father’s advice to his son

September 21, 2019

It is commonly said all good things are free. Please don’t mistake these good things for gold, diamond, cars and clothes. It generally means sunlight and air. And I might add advice too. There are always people around to give unsolicited advice and advice on subjects which the ‘wise man’ is ignorant about.

However, while at the College I studied two Shakespearean dramas, one was Julius Caesar and another Hamlet. In Hamlet, there is a monologue from Act.1, scene 3 which is memorable as an advice from a father to his son. The father Polonius was Chief Counsellor to the King, the father of Hamlet. His son, Laertes prepares to go to Paris for higher studies and at that time his father Polonius gives the following advice: “Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!

The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,  

And you are stayed for. There — my blessing with thee,

And these few precepts in thy memory

Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,

Nor any unproportioned thought his act.

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,

But do not dull thy palm with entertainment

Of each new-hatched, unfledged courage.


Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,

Bear’t that th’ opposèd may beware of thee.

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;

Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgement.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,

But not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy,

For the apparel oft proclaims the man,

And they in France of the best rank and station

Are of a most select and generous chief in that.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be,

For loan oft loses both itself and friend,

And borrowing dulleth edge of husbandry.

This above all, to thine own self be true,

And it must follow as the night the day

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Farewell. My blessing season this in thee!

I remembered this highly proclaimed and popular advice from a father to his son when a doctor visited my house a couple of days back from Mandya. After initial pleasantries and platitudes, we sat down comfortably for a kind of homely gossip over tea and eats. It was then the doctor disclosed  the advice his father gave him after approving the inter-caste marriage the doctor had decided on. 

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Of course, his wife was also a doctor though belonging to another State and different mother-tongue. I got curious not about the marriage but about the advice. After the marriage, the bridegroom and the bride were leaving for their new home. The father called his doctor-son to his presence in privacy and gave him the following advice: 

Advice No. 1: Never stand a guarantor for money borrowed by others. 

Advice No.2: Never arrange marriage alliance to anyone. 

Advice No.3: Never borrow money from your wife. 

If this doctor’s father had advised to his son, why not I recall the advice my father imparted to me at the time I left home looking for a job elsewhere. Of course, his advice was in our native tongue, but I will translate them in English. 1. Never stop ploughing your paddy field and go after catching fish instead. 2. Never borrow money, what is saved is what is earned and 3. If some cattle-heads stray from the herd you are taking out for grazing, you don’t go after the cattle that had strayed away but continue to follow the herd. It simply means, if some people don’t heed your advice leave them alone. Go with those who heed your advice. 

I thought there is food for thought here wondering what would be the advice given by King Solomon, the legendary wise King of Jews of the ancient world, to his son!

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