(What's this post all about? See where I started off here)
Dear Mr. Malhotra:
Northwestern University would like to congratulate you on your recent success, and we'd also like to take this opportunity to ask you to contribute to the Alumni Fund.
Last year, alumni contributed $19 million through the Alumni Fund, 12 percent of our entire operating revenue. In tough economic times, such generosity is as essential as it is impressive, because we employ these gifts to sustain the values at the core of the Northwestern enterprise.
No value is more central than educating outstanding students without regard to financial condition. We now
provide financial assistance to one of every two students, and last year we were able to increase financial aid
(the only budget area we increased) to meet the rising need of students and their families. Alumni Fund gifts
enabled us to do so without compromising other essential educational commitments.
Nearly 560,000 alumni - seven out of every ten - give to the Alumni Fund each year. Those gifts range from $1 to $100,000 and, taken together, make the essential difference as Northwestern defines the standard of quality education.
Please consider donating some of recent winnings to help future Northwestern University students achieve the same level of success you have received in your life.
Mark McNerney '87
Northwestern Alumni Fund
"Amir, you know I love you, but why are you coming to me with this nonsense?"
Asha was in no mood to hear Amir complain about his so-called 'problem.' That he had the audacity to come over at 6:30 in the evening, right as she was preparing dinner for her family, told her everything she needed about how much in his own little world he was, unaware or unconcerned with those around him.
"I'm happy to help," Amir offered. "Want me to set the table?"
"Fine, fine. The plates are in that cupboard over there." Asha lowering the flame on three different pots and finally turned to face Amir for the first time. "So you're having difficulty deciding how to spend all this money? This sounds like that movie we saw as children, with that black comedian who passed away."
"Huh? Oh no, it's not Brewster's Millions," Amir smiled, remembering exactly when they saw the movie together. "I don't have to spend the money or anything. I also don't have to give any of it away, technically. It's just - the seed got planted, and now I can't decide what I want to do."
"What are you going to do with 127 million dollars, Amir? You don't need that much money."
"Do you want some of it?" Amir pleaded.
"Hah!" Asha had been anticipating this question in one form or another. "Are you really going to tempt me like this? If you want to give us some of the money Amir, we'll happily accept it. As will our mother and father, and auntie Oshma and uncle Fahad. You want a simple solution, there it is. But ultimately it is your decision Amir. I will not make it for you."
Amir studied his sister as she gave her speech. She had matured quite a bit in just the past few years. Marriage and kids (twins, one boy and one girl, exactly what she wanted, if not at the same time) were certainly something she'd been planning since she was young, but Amir couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if she allowed herself a few more years of freedom before settling down. He later realized he was fantasizing about putting his sister into an ambiguous life position, similar to himself, for the purposes of solidarity and self-assurance. She was clearly happy now, despite the bags and stains on her clothes.
"I choose...naan." Amir, chuckled to himself as he took a bite out of the fresh bread. "Mmm, this is good. You added garlic?"
"Yes, and onion and chili powder. You know, you've always been indecisive Amir, you know that, right? How many colleges did you apply to, eleven? Twelve?"
"Um, it was nine, ok? Ten if you count my safety school, Albany." Amir mumbled with a mouthful of naan, as he dove into the fridge for something to drink.
"Right - you don't know how to make decisions and stick to them. You're so afraid of making mistakes, so you choose nothing." Asha stated very matter-of-fact. She was slowly starting to sound like her own mother, they both realized and hated.
"Hey - I did go to college, remember? Northwestern." Amir rebuffed, with as much school pride as he was capable of mustering.
"After you missed the deadline for early decision at Princeton, which father will never forgive you for."
"I would have been miserable there."
"But you also kind of hated Northwestern, right? Didn't you say you hated every class you took after freshman year?"
"Ah, it was fine. I was just complaining because all of a sudden everything got harder. And not just the classes. The weather was shitty that entire first semester. Girls were all a sudden rejecting me left and right too."
"Maybe they all started to realize what a lazy bum you were."
Amir shrugged. Asha felt a tiny bit guilty for being so blunt, but she knew that particular comment would wash right off of him. Just then two little bolts of energy shoot into the kitchen. Asha's children, now 3, were hungry and also eagerly awaiting their designated one hour of television they were entitled to shortly.
Amir immediately picked them both up, one with each arm - quickly realizing this would probably be one of the last times he'd be able to pull it off. "Well, well, well, look who it is. Hello Hari, hello Anisha."
Amir loved this bit - mixing up the children even though they both non-identical and increasingly more easily distinguishable. He was also sure Asha was sick of it.
"Sorry, sorry. So - who wants to play with my iPhone, hmm?"
Amir took his phone out of his pocket, all the while sporting a devilish grin. He loved being the fun uncle.
"Hey kids, maybe Uncle Amir will buy you guys your own iPhone...or an iPad!
"What's an iPad?"
Asha had to intervene now before things got out of control. "It's nothing, uncle Amir is just being silly - kids go wash up."
The two children immediately do as instructed. With a frown on his face Hari dutifully hands over the iPhone before he scampered away.
Asha turned to Amir again, this time with a stern look on her face. "Do me a favor, Amir. Don't make empty promises to my children."
"Empty? But I..."
"No, ok. Fine. Don't make any promises, period, for now, ok? You don't realize it but offering 3 year old children a $500 electronic device on a whim has repercussions. Think before you act in the future, please."
Amir nodded, then took the plate of naan into the dining room. As he sat down, the children came back in and started to seat themselves as well. Sensing and opportunity, Amir turned on his 'iFart' app and let one rip just as Hari began to sit down.
"That wasn't me!!!" Hari screamed.
They all laughed. Even Asha, still in the kitchen, couldn't help but smile.