Saturday, August 02, 2014

Cousins. Of all kinds.

Cousins. What's the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of 'Cousins'?

Family, extended family, childhood fun, games that you played.

I have a lot of first cousins and second cousins. And yeah, I understood the concept of second cousins while I was in school. A more helpful description is here,in case you didn't know - Courtesy - WikipediaWe share common ancestors, grand parents or great grand parents.

I grew up in a small town away from all my cousins. Most of my first cousins from both maternal and paternal sides, lived in villages and studied in rural schools in Hoblis or Talukas nearby their homes. In that sense, my siblings and I were the privileged lot who got a chance to study in the town's one and only Private English Medium School at that time. 

I rarely met them. It was only when we had some poojas at home. And may be when we attended marriages or functions outside of town or sometimes during summer and winter vacations.

When I look back at those years, the one thing I seemed to have problems with was that a majority of my first cousins were way too older than us. Some of them 10-14 years older than me. Blame both my parents for being the youngest in their families. We ended up being the youngest too :) So there was a huge gap in terms of relating to the phases in each one of our lives at the time. With some of them who were almost the same age as us, I remember having difficulty in sharing what's happening at our schools since they studied in a rural set up, and barely had any opportunities to explore extra curricular activities in sports or otherwise.

On the contrary, I was in touch with many of my second cousins who lived in the same town and studied with us. I remember discussing school stories with them through the noons over the weekends or during playtime. Also there were some of my older second cousins who I idolized and wanted to grow up to be like them. But again, they lived in Bangalore, a city which in itself passes on many things, which you can't relate to, coming from a small town. So I did face trouble on both sides of the spectrum.

Yes, there were all these constraints. But then, there were these high points as well. I remember spending so many nights on terraces in our villages homes, grandmas' homes, carrying mats and beddings. Watching stars through the night discussing the latest movies, songs and other useless things. And by 5 - 5 30 AM, when the weather became too cold to sleep on the terrace, we used to quickly run downstairs and then continue to sleep :)

I also remember relishing some home-made delicacies which our grand moms and mothers prepared for us during our vacations. My grand mom made this tamarind-salt-jaggery-jeera all crushed and made into little laddoos. Ah, so sour and tangy! One of my aunts made this awesome Beetroot Halwa. In fact I have never found it being made anywhere else and I wish more people made it, it's just so good. And those ice creams from the carts which you bought and ate together.

So, many years later when I started working and got hold of a mobile for myself I started calling some of them who also happened to have mobile phones/or were using emails, sometimes on their birthdays or wedding anniversaries. But still, I don't know birthdays of many of my first cousins.

2014. I feel the situation may not have entirely changed. But now I meet them more frequently and I do not let go of any opportunities I get to meet them and their children, in spite of living many miles away from them. 

Do you also have that cousin who talked too much, who spoke endlessly spinning stories, which you thought were not true? Or a cousin who didn't speak at all and sulked all the time? Or the one whom you avoided because of gossip and secrets slipping out of your circle? Or the one whom you idolized through your growing up years? Or the one in whom you confided in, more than with your own siblings? 

I remember reading this somewhere recently. ''A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost". And I think to myself. Indeed.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mothers, A Tale of Three Generations.

July 2012, ah, it's been a really long time. Between then and now, I am a mother of going-to-be-two year old toddler. And being a mother is what has brought me back to blogging which I diligently used to do few years ago.

During my growing up years I learnt a lot of things about my paternal and maternal homes and the people around them. My grand dads on both sides had two wives. Both their first wives were long gone before I was even born and with them, my grand dads too. So I had both my maternal and paternal grand moms, who were the second wives. They lived with us through most of my growing up years and teenage life.

Both these women showed strong support and love to their children, but not so much to the ones who lived with me, my mom and dad. I kind of always wondered, why is that. Never got any answers to my questions back then.

Many years have since passed observing my own mother and I am now a mother myself. A few observations though, stay strongly with me even today. Few strong revelations about Mothers.

Mothers most often worry more about the children who are not in front of them or with them. Even if the ones in front of them may have worrying issues at hand. Even if the ones with them worry more about their parents than themselves.

Mothers are most often not reasonable, in their attitude or behaviors with their children. They have a long list of expectations as the children grow up and become adults. They all do. Some of them let go after a point, some of them never do.

Mothers in Indian society adore their sons more than their daughters, you'd think, and you are right. Until his wife, the daughter-in-law arrives. My father is the only son and the last child amongst the three of them. He never enjoyed any bias for being a son, which is great. But what was worse is the fact that he lost much of the love from his mother, after he got married and had children of his own. Suddenly one of the daughters became the dearest to my grand mom and she grew blind to everything else. There's not a single day which has passed by, without both my parents worrying about her.

In many Indian families including my own maternal and paternal homes, I have seen extreme bias towards one or more children. In the process the child who has received less attention than the others tends to get disconnected or detached. Thankfully, this part though hasn't come true for myself, yet.

My mother loves all of us in the same way and complains about all of us in the same way too. She may be a bit more tolerant to some of us, than the others. I can't say the same for both my grand mothers. My mother worries more about the children who live far away from her, including myself though the ones with her, near her, cater to almost everything she needs.

I wonder, I really wonder how things will go with me as a Mother and I have a son.

I have lived the first half of my life on my terms. Studied what I wanted, though my parents thought something else was better for me. Took up my first job where I wanted, though my parents were apprehensive, worried that I would be miles away from home. Chose the love of my life, though my parents were completely aghast with my decision and abhorred me for what seemed like the longest few days/months of my life.

They came around, I convinced them, they convinced me.

My father convinced me that studying in a particular college on a payment quota seat would mean that I would get recruited on-campus and stay closer home, though I strongly believed I should take up a free seat in a college far away without burdening him any further.

I convinced my teary eyed mother while boarding the train to Mumbai for my first job, that I would take care of myself in the 'underworld' city. And that she can sleep peacefully.

I convinced my parents that 'HE' shall be the one and only love of my life. 7 years on, they know what I felt when I told them. They know that I live that everyday.

I will let my son live the life on his terms. I am there to advise him when needed, protect him all along and value his opinions as he grows.