Posts Tagged ‘family’

There is this advertisement doing the rounds on television these days. It’s about home loans being offered by a bank. What I like about the ad is its story and concept.

It shows a well educated mother – son duo, in all probability living in a metropolis, discussing the concept of having separate living solutions once the son gets married. She tells him to listen to her and get a place of his own, somewhere nearby, to avoid unpleasantness & tough choices, between mother and wife, in future. The son is bewildered at the thought of living away from his mother but out of confusion dawns comprehension of what she is trying to explain to him in such a matter of fact way.

The emotional ebb & flow giving way to relief and a solid decision, is evident on his face. What appeals to me is – first, the mother in the driving seat, both literally and figuratively. Second, her profound wisdom & deep rooted understanding of the way things are in families these days and the ease with which she imparts that to her son. Third, and most important, we see a parent, a mom, relinquishing control over the offspring, in an effort to keep him close.


Not very long ago, the Indian family system was unique in the world. We were the benchmark with which the world compared & learnt of filial duty & responsibility. I am sure all of us in the late thirties or forties have heard our parents go on and on about living in a joint family. How the patriarch, or in some cases the matriarch, of the family presided over the lives and decisions of all the members. How elders were free to correct the conduct of any child in the family.

How meals were always a time to come together & rejoice. How similar opportunities of education and jobs were open to every child in the family. Family picnics and outings did not need to be arranged over the phone. Any one of the elders could take all the kids out to a movie or picnic. They stayed together, ate together, travelled together.. In essence, their lives were intertwined with each other so much, that the concept of cousins or half siblings was lost on them. They were all brothers and sisters. Their parentage, their identity was not confined to their sets of parents, it encompassed the entire family.

Where on the one hand, parents or the elders, came to expect a certain conduct and attitude from the children of their family, on the other, children too relied heavily on the decisions of their elders. Married or not, every young person had to conform to the ways of the family. Even new brides got to learn anew and adjust their upbringing and disposition according to the family they were married into. The basic principles of being respectful towards all, remained unchanged.


Sadly, what we see around us these days is something completely different. What we see are ruins of the old family system. Gone are the joint families and the way they nurtured lives within, the way they passed on the legacy. No longer are elders free to point out misconduct or mistakes of the young who are not their sons or daughters by the privilege of birth, in some cases even that is not possible. Brides these days prefer to stay nuclear. They prefer to look after their husbands and kids and don’t want to be burdened with the complications of an extended family. Parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters -in-law, remain just that- in laws.. They don’t become a part of their families.


We take it in our stride and move on, accepting it as the need of the hour or something that is happening with everyone these days. Not all families or elders are as eager as the mother in the ad, to let go of their children to make a family or a life of their own. Most parents tend to stay on even in adverse circumstances. I have witnessed sons and their wives throwing abuse after abuse at these aging parents. Nothing they do, seem to the young as coming from good intentions or a sense of love and responsibility towards their children and grand children. The same son who was lovingly and so painstakingly brought up by them, turns on them as soon as he gets a wife.The children of the family suffer the most. Their childhood is scarred and their lives shape up witnessing the strifes between their parents and grandparents.

Resultantly, there are either sob stories to tell if the parents decide to stay home & deal with insult after insult hurled at them or old age homes filled to the seams.

Neither case resembles the old glory of the family system that we were so proud of.

We talk of western influence in such derogatory terms most of the time but I feel their family system is much more sorted than ours. They have accepted that once a child starts earning or going out in society, his/her identity as their child alone, ceases to exist. They become their own people, capable of taking important decisions of their lives and dealing with the repercussions. They know that parents can guide them but can’t protect them forever. They understand the need of letting their children be. They may not turn out exactly as their parents want them to but they are happy and satisfied because they become what they are, on their own steam. Staying separate does not come after marriage. It comes as soon as the child starts to earn a living. The love and affection that they have for their elders is not feigned because the constant bickering and nagging is absent from their daily lives.


I am a complete sucker for joint family systems but with the way things are these days it is infinitely better to follow the west and live with respect than to stick with what is expected as a societal obligation and stay unhappy. This holds true & goes both for parents and kids..

Just a random thought.. Would love to have your views.

I never thought I would be choosing this title for my blog, EVER because I have always maintained that regrets are such a waste of time and precious energy. In any normal life, people do things which may either work for them or not. But regretting the ones that did not work out has never been my way. 
I have always owned my mistakes, learnt from them and moved on. Sometimes, my closed ones would agree that, I have been fool  enough to repeat some of those mistakes too. But isn’t that what life is all about? In my humble opinion, life is a blind deck of experiences. We never know what card will turn up next. We just do the best we can. Sometimes our best sees us through while at other times, we learn. 

I recently lost my uncle to brain haemorrhage. He was too young to have left us. As the Hindu tradition goes, we were there,  paying our tributes and condolences, giving support and strength to the family for twelve solemn days. Even in the midst of all that religious and social bustle, I had a feeling that the real test of strength and perseverance,  for the immediate family will begin after the customary rituals got over. After all, they would have to face empty rooms, an empty chair at dinner, the disposing of clothing and other day to day stuff, the inevitable pictures and memories that lie strewn about in any household, even the food would remind them of what he liked best or how much he enjoyed his little indulgences. 

Days have passed and today, as the societal norms dictate, we went to see them all again. To let them know that we are there for them in their hour of need. I learnt a valuable lesson from my grieving aunt because, make no mistake, her grief has just begun. She has a life time of solitude ahead. While recounting some of his last days, my aunt couldn’t control her tears and word after word of regret, of unfulfilled dreams, of a life lived in a way that left so much incomplete, so much to want for, poured out of her

She spelled out the toll that a public life takes on a family. She told us how he was always there for people who approached him for help, how he would ignore his health, his meals, his family for public recognition and to make a name for himself and leave a legacy behind. How he wanted to leave behind his humble beginnings and strained against things that kept him tied down. She told us how that made him irritable and ignited a latent anger in him. 

As I sat there listening to her say that “he kept running all his life, we kept fighting- I, to keep him healthy and he to challenge life and destiny despite his health,”  I couldn’t help draw similarities with my own father. He also keeps so much to himself. 

I realised what a waste of life and opportunity we all make if we fail to acknowledge and appreciate the people who have always been there for us. In our bid to outdo ourselves, we tend to ignore our closest confidantes, the very people whose unwavering support has been with us throughout our journey. They have stood by us, albeit quietly and may be not in any extraordinary way. They have just been there, believing in us, depending upon us, feeding us when we are hungry, soothing us when we are in a turmoil, laughing with us when we can find no humour in life, sometimes laughing at us when we started to take ourselves too seriously, the ones who kept us grounded. We take them for granted. 

If this is not a cause for regret then nothing is. We don’t know what tomorrow might bring. We cannot change what happened yesterday but we have complete control on what is happening now. We need to get our priorities right. We need to pay attention. Instead of hurting the people closest to us by our blatant neglect, we should take sometime to recognise their efforts in our life, to be grateful for their presence. Most of all, we should communicate. Yes, speaking up is important. We have to put it all into words, sometimes. We cannot leave things UNSAID, not with people who are so close. True, we understand each other when we are this close, we can interpret each others’ silences but it doesn’t hurt to say it once in a while. 

If we are hurt we should let them know, we should share with them our disappointments- in them, in ourselves or in life, in general. We should let them know if and when we are happy, what act of theirs made us so. Our anger, resentment, grief, pain, should be passed on to them as much as our moments of glory, success, joy & contentment. Sharing a life doesn’t just mean living in the same house, providing for each other in the physical or monetary sense alone. It’s being there for each other emotionally, that is more important. 

Our family, friends, our inner coterie deserve the best part of us. The part which is unspoiled by worldly considerations, the part that is pure and brutally honest. None of us is going to make it out of this life alive. So, let’s just make sure that we don’t leave any regrets behind. Finding people who genuinely care about and love us, is rare. Let’s make it our life’s motto to cherish them above all and make our time on this Earth,  worthwhile because the day we kick the bucket, it’s these people in whose hearts we will live forever. Let’s give them reasons to love us beyond life & death itself. 

I went to the general store the other day and decided, on an impulse, to get a different brand of tooth paste for myself. It was weird and at the same time exciting to add it to my cart, after all, for as long as I can remember, I have been using the same brand of toothpaste, the same red color, the same taste. This morning while finally opening the new tube of shiny yellow green paste with cooling crystals, I felt like an adventurer out on her maiden voyage into the unknown.. 

Hilarious as it may sound, most of us don’t venture out of our habits and comfort zones even for something as mundane as a new kind of toothpaste. It’s not brand fixation that keeps us tied up, atleast not in my case. It is just the comfort of the familiar. 

Sadly enough, consumer products are just an example of what we are doing with our lives. I cannot speak for everyone, neither can I generalise (I hate to generalise, as it is). But I have to write about what sparked this seemingly unremarkable or ordinary sounding thought process. 

I read quotes like – “Life isn’t supposed to be lived in one place.” – and being a thinking person I understand how right that is, both geographically and intellectually. One has to travel, one has to explore, gain new experiences, let go of the things and people gone by.. One has to grow.. And people don’t grow while being confined to their comfort zones. 

One has to try different things, be different people in order to find what one actually is. Experimenting, juggling choices, failing, learning in the process- Everything is important

While I know all this theoretically, I have never dared to try my luck outside the protective cocoon of my family. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t told what to do and how to do it. A set of instructions were always provided no matter what I decided to do. I understood quite early in my life that simply following the instructions provided, would save a lot of bad blood and complications. I did not know any other way to live. 

I had never learnt to live without my support structure. I had never been to a bank till I was forced to do that, at the age of 27 when I joined a job outside my hometown. I had never travelled alone, never taken a bus on my own, never even purchased my own clothing. Everything I needed was taken care of by my parents and the support structure that they had ready for me. I never thought I could have a say in my own life. I was meek, indecisive and confused all at the same time- a recipe for disaster

Eventually, I rebelled. Because it is crippling, too much love. It is suffocating. It feels like a leash. It leaves too less breathing space for us to grow. It breeds fear, distrust and some degree of lying and manipulating too. I developed a coping mechanism where I didn’t have to share everything I did, at home. I found new confidantes. I found solace in books. Sometimes my coping mechanism bordered on escapism. 

I once told my therapist (actually just a medical practitioner, I was talking to) that I am indecisive. I don’t know what to buy, what to wear, what to eat. I am left flabbergasted when provided with choices. That’s the reason I never order at a restaurant. I simply don’t know what to pick. I never learned to choose. He simply asked me, “Do you drive?” I said yes I do. “Do you ask the one sitting shotgun where to turn and which route to take to reach your destination?” I said, ‘mostly no’. “Then you are not indecisive” he said, ” you have to just convert that ‘mostly no’ to a resounding never”. 

Simple as that. So I started with the small things, case in point, my new toothpaste. I find a deep seated pleasure, now, in breaking stereotypes, the bigger things, none of that silly toothpaste stuff. I dream of taking it further. Life is too short to be left with regrets at the end. 

It is late but it is never too late to evolve, to give oneself a shot at happiness and fulfillment. It’s never too late to BE. 

“Do you like Country music?” asked Prakirti. My last blog must have led her to believe that I understood the western music scene quite well, so I told her that my musical education was sporadic, at best. And that it was quite late in life that I had picked up English songs and artists. Hence, differentiating genres was beyond me. She said, “Let me send you a selection of songs, then.” She did. And I instantly fell in love with this beauty. 

Don Williams – I Believe in You

​I don’t believe in superstars

Organic food and foreign cars

I don’t believe the price of gold

The certainty of growing old

That right is right and left is wrong

That north and south can’t get along

That east is east and west is west

And bein’ first is always best.

Well, I dont believe that heaven waits

For only those who congregate

I’d like to think of God as love

He’s down below

He’s up above

He’s watchin’ people everywhere

He knows who does and doesn’t care

And I’m an ordinary man

Sometimes I wonder who I am.

I know with all my certainty

What’s goin’ on with you and me

Is a good thing

It’s true

I believe in you.

I dont believe virginity

Is as common as it used be

In workin’ days and sleepin’ nights

That black is black and white is white

That Superman and Robinhood

Are still alive in Hollywood

That gasoline’s in short supply

The risin’ cost of gettin’ by

I believe in love

I believe in babies

I believe in mom and dad

And I believe in you.

Once again,  I was done in by the soothing music, the bewitching and entrancing strains of the guitar, the charismatic baritone of Don Williams and most of all by the lyrics – Words, weaving Magic. So simple yet of such import. 

Out of all the delightful things that the artist says, he believes in, I chose MAGIC as the title of my blog. I shall try and elucidate, rather justify my choice of title in my plain, ingenuous expression.

The writers of the song and the artist who made it so popular might have concentrated on Love, I like Magic. For me love is magic, faith is magic, music is magic, divine providence is magic, mom-dad-babies-children-old folk all Magic. 

Not even a week has gone by, I was down and out, suffering from despair. I wrote about it. Magic transpired. I got support from unexpected quarters. People who were long gone, without any contact whatsoever, reached out. Mere acquaintances came forward with their stories, experiences and suggestions. I was pulled out of the dark by so many helping hands. I received calls from people I had never spoken to and they made small talk feel so relieving (case in point, Prakirti, the child who gave me this song and set the ball rolling for this piece here.. Thank you. Grateful!) I was so happy to find so much love & care that indifference & ‘what can I say to this’ attitude from the people I expected relief from, also did not dampen my spirit. I had embraced HopePure Magic. Bliss

I have often heard people say- Do not be afraid. Go ahead, do your part and things will automatically fall into place. I feel a certain amount of fear of the unknown, of the outcome, of the process is a great motivator in getting things done. Fear is magic too. Just the right amount and you are on your way. 

The most splendid, resplendent, glorious of all Magic is the ability to connect with People. Family-parents, grandparents, siblings, sons, daughters, cousins, friends, co-workers, colleagues or even for that matter the strangers we come across everyday while walking down a street or entering a building, attending a concert or a show, shopping in a mall or arcade. People are everywhere. Just smiling down at them creates Enchantment– a mystic energy that envelops us and makes us believe in each other. It coerces, compels & drives us to be more accepting of our differences, of each other’s opinions & circumstances. Acceptance is Magic. Belief in each other is Magic.

I believe in Magic✨. I believe in You-my people💖, my circle of light 💫, my ring of faith.😇