Thursday, November 17, 2016
Theory of Relatives: Are they worth it?
It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that relatives are the “necessary evil” we all need in our lives. Though you can’t get away from them, you also can get enough of them too. From the day we’re born to the day we’re cremated or buried six feet under, they are always around. Some are there in your life invited; and some, uninvited. Here’s a fun fact – everyone is related to us in one way or the other.
My childhood was the most obnoxious one and my relatives know the story very well. They would tell their version of me being a menace of the top order. I was like ‘Dennis’ to their ‘Mr. Wilson’. When my parents got married, my mother was flabbergasted by the number of relatives my father had. It’s been 35 years now and my mother still doesn’t know most of the relatives from my father’s side. Being from a small village in the Northern Karnataka, my father’s family comprised of the whole village (almost). He worked as a teacher there for years in the 70s and those children now are married and have multiple children. It’s like keeping count of the “Swadeshi” customers. The multiplication just goes beyond the calculator’s limit. I guess that’s how super-computers got invented. But, on a serious note, my father, being a noble servant of citizens, thought about global welfare and all such philanthropic ideas while he was on government duty. My parents never let me and my elder sister worry about anything and they had perfected the art of camouflaging their feelings. My mother disliked how my father always thought about others more than his own family. But my father never let us feel it otherwise. He was gruesomely trying to be the best person to both, his family and his relatives. He still feels that he’s obliged to make good to them, even though the people he thinks are his “own” never did him any good.
That’s where my father and I enter a cold war. My mother has taken a neutral stand because she just cares for her family and nothing else. I inherit her trait when it comes to speaking my mind. My sister, on the contrary, inherits my father. She knows (rather, she’s learnt) to take a diplomatic stance and favour both parties. I am of the opinion that, when anybody tries to break the bond of blood by words or deeds, they don’t belong to our circle. Be it friends or family (relatives, in this context), they are officially defunct. And when it comes to those whom I’ve never met, or never talked to, I wouldn’t be the right person to tell if they are the good ones or not. I can only tell that after looking at my parent’s expressions. Whenever I see my father helping people in his village, helping people in his work group or any random person, I see the enthusiasm of a child who wants to keep rolling in the mud. He knows it’s dirty (literally); he knows it will harm his health; he very well knows the mud won’t get any cleaner, but he enjoys it; he likes mud all over him. In short, he is obsessed with mud. When I look at my mother, she seems so damn helpless. She’s handled two kids wonderfully, and she has no strength to handle the third. My father knows this too, but he’s torn between infinite torments within himself.
My father still believes in “Karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana”. But, nobody is wise enough to convince him that, people change. The relatives that he thinks are blood relations; most of them have forgotten the meaning of it. It is only he who thinks they are family and goes that extra mile to help them regardless of what kind of help they need. Be it financial, official, or moral support, he has given it all and expected nothing in return. I only despise those who do not see his sacrifices and yet continue to act like they are living in the 70s. My father is almost 70 years old now and he doesn’t possess that sort of energy to still go around the world to see that everything and everyone is doing well.
Unfortunately, I too haven’t been much of help to him in recent years, considering all the qualms he had to overcome. He never included me in his battles like these and that’s why I feel repulsive to such relatives. It seems wrong to blame them for my father’s ill health, because in the end, it was my father’s choice. He could have chosen not to care, but he has a heart. He was compelled, intrigued, moved, provoked, and to some extent, emotionally blackmailed to get into all of this. I could have stopped him by being blunt and speaking my mind. I could have told him, “They’re not worth it. Please let it go.” And I was sure of getting one befitting reply, “You won’t understand. Just keep quiet.” I didn’t want to get into an argument of how much I understood or did not understood. But, the only thing I knew was, I didn’t want to see my father being estranged, betrayed and insulted by his own relatives – the one he calls family. Maybe he acts like nothing is wrong, nobody would know, he might shed a flood of tears in silence, but we all know. He’s not alone. Someday, I will find that courage and tell him – enough is enough. You’re not doing this anymore. And I think I’ve found my inspiration, a trigger rather, to instigate this conversation.
After my ring ceremony, it’s not just me and my fiancée who’s hearts have united; it’s our families too. And with two families united, there are two universes of relatives colliding together too. We’re about to experience another “Big Bang” (Astronomically!) I feel like a rookie when it comes to handling relations like my father did. I am still scratching on the surface, trying to keep everyone in my family happy, and now I’ve entered a relationship where I’ve to think beyond the wellness of my own family. I’ve to think of hers too. This is the time where I need my father most. I can’t let him lose his mind over someone or something that he’s trying to sort for decades long. I know I can’t let him leave his responsibilities all of sudden just because I am getting married. I’ve to make him my (OUR! I speak as a couple now) responsibility (which I should have, long ago), but nevertheless – better late than never. He’s the one who’s taught me the meaning of love, more than anyone or anything that I’ve come across. Though I get poetic sometimes, and write to my fiancée, never I’ve written poetry for my father. To me, he meant more than poetry. He’s a person of prose. Not every relative will understand my love for him, or his love for family, but one thing I wish they would all take away from this story is, “He’s done serving you. He can’t tell this in words like me. He may say so, in actions or deeds. But, I request you all. Let him be.”