I was reading this post by mindcurry today. It took me back a few years when I turned 12. My first thought on my 12th birthday was “oh no, I am no longer a kid, my parents will not love me like they did before!” But nothing changed. Now a decade later nothing has changed. I am still their little girl they fuss over, though I do a bit of fussing over them too. I am happy for these constants in my life, my Dad, Mom, brothers and some cousins and aunts and uncles. My parents are from an agricultural background. Their people are some of the nicest Malayalaees that I have met. Simple, hardworkind, loving and absolutely crazy about us kids. Even though my Dad has six brothers there was no haggling over family property and subsequent enmity that happens in Syrian Catholic homes and the brothers have a respect for each other that is so heart warming to watch. When I hear about property disputes, I thank God that a piece of land did not tear my Dad’s or Mom’s family apart as it has done to so many families. I can walk into my Uncles homes, which are close to each other and feel the special bond between our families. And what is more heart warming is that their wives get along so well too. These ladies are from six different families but come together for any function, help each other out, go to church together and fight over who gets to oil my hair and plait it !! I am the only niece for my uncles and hence a bone of contention for the aunties!!! In fact one of the most enduring memories from child hood was coconut oil and eyebrow pencil.Everyday one aunt or the other would oil my hair and plait it, then take the eyebrow pencil and draw a long line vertically on my forehead, which is a Keral style 'pottu' or 'bindi'. Then my eyes would be lined with the eyeliner till I looked like a raccoon!! Then each aunty would take me to their maternal homes to show me off :) I think I used to look horrendous but bore up all the attention I got as a price for being the only girl in the family :)
Today I hear about yet another family that has split apart because of land dispute. What is it with us mallus and land? We are so greedy for any cent we can pick up that we will even throw our old parents out to appropriate land. While growing up the most common topic for family discussions in Kerala was property wars being fought by some family or other. It saddened me. Why are property disputes so complicated? Why can’t they just share it equally and remain as a family?