Sunday, October 24, 2010

Of Blood and Beyond

There are so many of my relatives I can’t stand (and I can write this fearlessly and confidently knowing none of them will be reading this). Throughout my life there were all the mamas, chachas, tayas, phupis and khalas (blood and otherwise, including all the ones we love to adopt along the way) and their various offspring present at Eids, births, weddings, funerals and all the other life-changing events that happen in, well, life. As a child all I noticed were the same-age category ones that I got along with. These were the ones who were on the same wavelength as you. The ones you had built tents on the terrace with (even in mid-summer, which were perhaps not as lethal back then) and played cricket in the garden with (the boys were good enough to play in the house lawn rather than on the streets/nearby empty plots, being considerate enough to keep your gender in mind). They were also the ones you fought tooth and nail with one hour and the next were happy enough to watch Thunder Cats on NTM with. They were also the ones you would invent the most disgusting snacks to eat with while watch programs like 'V the Final Battle' and 'Tremors' for the umpteenth time (was that the only English movie STN ever played or what?). The aforementioned snacks included slices of cheese on toast melted in the microwave for 20 seconds and un-toasted bread with mayo and crisps squished inside (I already mentioned the snacks were gross didn't I?)

As you grow up, the childhood memories remain but there is an increasing awareness of politics on the adult level. While 'big people' (as HRH calls adults) did their best to not talk about or include their kids in their internal tussles, there was nevertheless the dawning of knowledge in the sense that 'Yes so and so should have done so and so' or 'XYZ should not have said that' and the consequential questioning of loyalties.

As in all families (unless perhaps you live in some Enid Blyton-esque familial setting, I’d say most of us are more Roald Dahl-esque), there were conflicts. Unwittingly or otherwise you formed opinions on who you liked and who you didn't on the basis of
1. Your own perceptions, i.e., you grew out of the childhood bubble you had been ensconced in
2. The tidbits you overheard from discussions around you

As I was growing up I always knew who I connected with and who I didn't. When I was in my teens I used to rant and rave about why I had to meet so and so when I didn’t like them and they weren't very nice frankly speaking. You would then get to hear the parental spiel about "blood is thicker than water" and "family is family at the end of the day" blah blah.

When the "I am going to marry Robbie Williams before I'm 22" thing didn't work out for me, and I was actually getting married (to someone so much better than RW I might add, {can you tell my hubby is one of the few readers I have?}), I wanted to have a small wedding. For me small meant a maximum of 70-80 people. My parents are averagely social. I have three younger sisters who are also normally social. Yet when it came down to making the guest list, there was suddenly a multitude of individuals who just HAD to be invited as they had ‘invited us on ABC, DEF, GHI occasions and if we didn’t call J,K and L then they would feel offended as we would be calling M,N,O,P after all (the gist is you run out of the alphabet and repeat it more times than the double alphabets in all Defence Housing Authority's blocks, in all cities combined). You get the idea. The small wedding didn't pan out.

The good thing was after marriage I could dump all the relatives I didn't think were worth keeping in touch with due to their lack of interest/concern/care (of course this was off-set with the wide range of relatives-in-law who I now had to meet. I still can't decide what's worse. And yes the relatives-in-law won't be reading this either. Hopefully.) 
6 years into my marriage, I still see the same cycle continue. While I may have got out of it somewhat, the balance my parents try to maintain with 'blood' relatives still annoys me. When it's someone who reciprocates your feelings it's all well and good. But when you try to maintain relations for the sake of maintaining them as they are "blood", it stops making sense to me.

At the same time, I am eternally grateful to my parents for having formed some super-strength relationships which started either with them or even their parents and have continued into my generation. These people have proved that being of the same blood is no criteria. In fact they have shown themselves to be far more loving, caring and reliable than the so-called blood relations. As time progresses, I have observed that more and more people now give increasing importance to the friends they know they can count on as opposed to the individuals they share genes with. Maybe we don't have the time and patience our ancestors had or maybe we have reached a point where we are beyond caring. Either way, life's too short to spend dealing with the pointless politics of extended families and individuals who just don't care.

If by some minuscule chance this is read by someone who might know they are being referred to negatively, there is the following disclaimer: "Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. For those who (blood or not) know they are held in high regard, respect and love; any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely intentional (you know who you are)."

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