Saturday, February 09, 2008

The tenous familial bonds...

Circa 2005: Me and my eldest brother had gone to the airport to pick up my Dad. Upon arrival we were told that the flight was late by half an hour. While I sat at the chair outside, my brother went to pick up some magazines. Suddenly I saw a Taxi arriving and disgorging a whole lot of my relations from Kerala onto the road. There was my Uncle (my moms first cousin) and his brand new wife and her parents and siblings. I had been to their wedding and hence recognized the brides people. I was so happy to see them that it escaped me that no one knew of their presence in Bangalore. It was while talking to them that it came to light that they had come to Bangalore a week before and the fact that neither of my parents or any other relations knew of the same.

I felt terribly hurt. I did not understand how he could have come and gone without even calling up to say hello. This did not happen in my family. We are a very close knit family with no formalities amongst us. Anyone can drop in anytime and expect to be given food and board without question.

My parents dismissed the incident with an excuse that perhaps he was too busy to call up. But I was not convinced and felt very hurt. He did call up later and apologized to my parents and never did it again.

Circa 2008: Last week I went to drop my ex colleague and good friend to her PG after a movie. After dropping her to the gate I was walking back to the car when I heard someone shouting my name. I looked around and saw my Uncle from Kochi waving to me furiously. He looked so happy to see me!! I was flabbergasted to see him in Bangalore because I didn’t know he was here.

He came running huffing and puffing, mighty proud to have caught up with me. He explained between gasps and pants that he was shouting my name for some time and was quite sure he would have lost me. He explained that his wife’s cousins lived here and they were visiting them. Soon the wife came and joined us. My aunt explained with an embarrassed smile that they didn’t have time to call us. I pretended great understanding at their predicament while inside it hurt bad to know that this Uncle, one of my favorite since childhood, had not called up home or told us that he was here, even though he later made it a point to drop in home .

In both cases, the new entrants in the family, the wife were the people who were unaware of the culture of a large family. Some were even miffed at their spouse’s penchant for following age old family customs. Over the years, many new entrants have come and been assimilated in the family and are happy to be part of this large whole. These are people who realize that they are part of a family that accepts them no matter who they are and what their net worth is.

On the other hand there are some like the two examples above, who harbor the age old feelings of envy and or inferiority complex or plain aloofness that prevents them from appreciating familial bonds and niceties. What a pity. I have seen several new relations like this, who act all boorish and then with age, regret the time they kept away from a large but loving group of people for petty reasons. Life is short they realize a bit too late.

But it hurts bad when you come across cases like the ones I mentioned above. It is like being rejected by ones own. I wish every new entrants into new families, whether a guy or a gal realize this and accept and appreciate the spirit of their new families!

p.s do read this beautiful post!

19 comments:

mathew said...

really..it really hurts..i think we discover about such problems as we grow olders..as kids uncles/aunts/cousins are folks whom you would love to spend time with as much as possible..and it was unthinkable of them coming to the same town as ours and skippin by home..But times are changing..the concept of big fat happy family sounds like fairy tales..atleast you uncle bothered to come up to you..there are many who even dont do that..

Dhanya said...

I guess now a days people are becoming more narrow minded.. They are bothered only about their immediate family and don't want to think about the extended family.. But that way you loose a lot..

silverine said...

Mathew: Guess you know the feeling :)

Dhanya: This usually happens with newcomers, especially those used to Nuclear families. Thankfully most adjust to their new extended family sooner or later, especially since we are a non intrusive family :)

Deepti said...

Being part of a real large family I can understand your thoughts ...
Almost every weekend we have relatives dropping by ... lots of my friends find this different ... they really dont know what they are missing ...

shruti said...

hmm ... I agree that the love and care of an extended family cant be valued or looked over but sometimes people have different priorities at different times in life . Its best to give your love to those whom you care for without having expectations in return because that is bound to hurt . It might not be possible for them to fit in meeting eevryone evrytime they come down in their short schedule and that might be a reason of not informing anyone . However it might be just so that they dont really value the relationship with the extended family . One needs to have the ability to observe the circumsatnce from a dispassionate perspective and know where one stands and accept it without being hurt .
Because if they dont value the relationship then its useless to feel hurt for a one sided attachment and if they do care abt the relationship but are unable to give it time / priority then also feeling hurt is unnecessary because the bond and love is there and its only a matter of time .

silverine said...

Deepti: You are right. People don’t know what they are missing by pissing off family members and keeping them away.

Shruti: Well my circumstances are a bit different. Most of us mallus have long extended families. And most of us don’t keep in touch with them or do so only for occasions. This is mostly due to the snoopy and interfering nature of relations :) My family on the other hand is a large family because we want to be and make an effort to be one. And this is done by being non intrusive and respecting other people's privacy. New comers who do not know that follow the safe route of keeping nosy relation at bay including everyone in the same fold. :)

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

I think I understand - I have a three month old neice who doesn't have a name cause no one could find a name *yet* that appealed to the family : I am talking here only of the members of the representative committee - that is about 25 member strong.

Jiby said...

You said it..."Life is short". Our people are very bad at analyzing their positions and the consequences of their actions...they have an innate knack for screwing up their own happiness. Envy and inferiority complexes...boy, haven't I not seen and heard quite a bit of that, and where it finally leads to!

Anonymous said...

Great post, though there are some contradictions with your earlier views. I had been a regular reader of both the blogs, had seen a partisan view of stereotyped suffering DLs. Wanted to post a comment objecting some of your arguments then, but refrained from doing so looking at the heroine worship kinda arguments (Mamma's boy, why did he get married etc for eg:). If a nuclear fissionable DL can raise such a dejected feeling on an extended family member(s), have you ever thought about the feeling MIL/FIL(all other ILLLLLs…) close family members would have on fissionable material’s chemical characteristics? I know the ILs are not saints, add generation gap to their ego, hapless husbands’ remaining life is pathetic, Caught between the FM’s silly behavior and own parents’ egotistic behavior. Mole out of mountain is made where a simple understanding at some places, learned silence at some other places would have made the life of the new couple and lots of lives around them a heaven. I dream if all DLs are able to grow and think beyond ME, MY MAN, MY KIDS.
PS: One such hapless mallu husband, was a son some time back!!
Ramesh.

Dhanush said...

Very True. Its a kind of feeling inside you when somebody who is close to you don't visit you when they are here. I even feel it with friends who come from abroad and then come to bangalore for a day or two and then not even call me.

silverine said...

Dhanush: Friends too? *ouch* that must hurt real bad :(

Anon:My family is even larger than what it is,like everybody else's. After all we all have relations. But all of them are not part of the family in the sense that they don't keep in touch or leash their tongues. Such relations don't make a family. A family is a group of relations who can co exists, is what I feel. And co existence can happen only when their is mutual respect. A new DIL in my family will be given a warm welcome and thats all. No one will bother whether she kow tows to the elders or even keeps in touch. Most of them do so, but on their own. My family has survived as a family I guess because there are no expectations from anyone. And it is the elders who need to change for families to succeed I feel. We are a once bitten twice shy kinda family. We have learnt our lessons. And we are not the only one. I see many such families now. I guess I wasn't clear about this in my post and hence your feeling that I am contradicting :) To give you an example,there is a father son duo here in my house, hell bent on getting into IIPM. And even though we know the realities of IIPM no one will stop them beyond the mandatory briefing about the place. The duo will be given all help they need and thats all. We have learnt that people dont need advice. They just need to be left alone to lead their life the best way they can. Sorry for the long comment, but maybe i left a lot of things unsaid in my post.

silverine said...

Jiby: Tell me about it! Our people are the worst offenders, they just don't know how to control their tongues. At one time I am told most mallu Xians, kept away from families to avoid unpleasantness. I see a change now. Lets hope for the best.

TW: lol!! It wud have been the situation in my family a decade ago. Now the elders have learnt to keep quite and let the youngsters take their own life decisions.

Jiby said...

yes, the tongue does the greatest evil. i sometimes find it very neccessary to give the older generation a class on speaking lesser...they take great pride in inculcating their grouses into the younger generation too. with families becoming smaller and living farther away, people are making an effort to keep the flock close...but bad apples cannot be wished away.

Last month my dad told me of his concept of relations...he called it "aduppam" and "bandham"....aduppam is people who love to be part of the family and enthusaistically join in irrespective of how distant your blood ties are, while bandham is the blood ties which don't mean much even if you are uncle, brother,first-cousin, neice,in-law and can't find happiness to be in the family.

my dad's advice to me(am a slacker when it comes to maintaing family ties...he's trying to change me!) was to keep the "aduppams" closer and let the "bandhams" decide for themselves where they want to be.

silverine said...

Jiby: Yours Dads concept of relations is exactly what we are following!! I guess there is hope for us yet :)

Nishant Chandgotia said...

Hyea,
I come from a joint family and(thnakfully) havn't experienced this. I would be surely depressed if something of this sort ever happened. sheeshhh..The problem is this growing ego...preference to stay alone..growing neutral family culture.. I often wonder how can people survive like this..WEIRD

Alameen said...

But then Silverine we need to draw a line somewhere. Do you visit all these uncles when you go to Kerala. If you do, then you deserve a visit from them :)

I was deputed onsite for a year and when i came back i paid a visit to all my family members.. But then they started expecting my visit everytime i go home from Bangalore. One Uncle complained that i stopped respecting him after getting a job. Then only i realized that i am setting wrong example there..

I don't mind visiting someone who's in touch.. But same place, i won't allow anyone to complain also.. You give you take..

Apoorv Khatreja said...

Thanks for dropping a comment and linking to my blog. Though I was disappointed that you disabled comments on that post.

To answer the question you raised in your post, I'll answer with another post.

http://apoorvkhatreja.blogspot.com/2007/08/brainwash.html

Maybe it's time that people realise that kids aren't small and irritating dimwits anymore. Things are different, very different.

silverine said...

Nishanth: In my part of the world it is relations who drive people apart!

Al Ameen: Please read my comment to Ramesh to understand the post better :)

Apoorv: I disabled comment because these are your posts. Very well written blogs :)

...Jive Talker said...

Part of it can be explained by the kind of families the newcomers come from. I guess not all of us are lucky enough... Also like you said, it does take effort and most importantly time, to be a family in the truest sense. I must also admit, recreating the magic, is very very tough when parents and siblings have just drifted apart...