I think one of the main identities we Indians have all around the world is that we have a huge family. I’d like to blame Bollywood movies and television serials for this. But movies din’t just bring it up you know? There is a certain level of honesty in this fact.
I remember having this one conversation with my school-mates while I was in UAE about how big our families are. While most of my friends were going on and on about their uncountable number of family members, I was just sitting there in astonishment. I then exclaimed, “Gosh you all have such huge families! My family at the most just includes my maternal and paternal side. And they don’t have huge families. I can literally count them!” My friends first laughed thinking that what I said was a joke, but later realized that what I said is true. One girl said that maybe I din’t know my family at all and was kept under the dark about more than half of my family. I laughed really hard at her.
I shouldn’t have laughed.
Living in a foreign country where hardly anyone from my family lives, my parents and a few relatives convinced me that we had a small family. They’d talk only about a few people and when I asked them about any more people they always said, “What more? This is it!”
I always thought that we just had an immediate family. All those distant to distant to distant relatives is something I din’t have and I was so, so happy about it.
Until I came to India to stay and lead a life here.
The first time I got to know that I DO have an extended family is when we came to stay with this uncle of mine. My mom said he was her brother. Now, I know her real brothers and also her cousins. So on asking her what kind of brother he is, she said cousin.
Wait what? I thought she had just one cousin brother! From where did this one pop up? She then told me she has more cousins about whom she never told me about as they weren’t in touch due to the busy lives we all lead in different countries. So when she finished telling me about them all I thought that this was it.
By now you must have realized that when I think this is it, it isn’t. More was ahead for me.
On one Sunday my mom received a call on her mobile. The person said that he and his brother were coming to visit us at our house. Till I was able to ask her who they were, they magically appeared on our doorstep just minutes after the call! (Family members I tell you. They’ll just come out of nowhere. Ugh)
One of the two brothers came to me and said, “Keerthi! Do you know who we are? I remember the last time I saw you, you used to wear those Gandhiji type glasses and you were so tiny! Look how big you’ve gotten. Still short though. Hahaha!” You yourself told that the last time you saw me I was 6 years old. Now how will I remember you?
I went to the kitchen and told my mom that I have no idea who they are (I could’ve told them directly. But meh, anxiety and all that) and she told me their names. I remember receiving chain e-mails from them a long time ago. Other than that, I don’t really know who they are! They were having a gala time with my mom and dad and I was just like, “Hehe. Very funny.” Or like, “Yes I do remember. Haha!”
While in reality, this was me
Now every time someone came to visit us, I started counting how many family members I do have till now. But one fine day I couldn’t count because it was waaaay too much! How can there be so many humans in one family?!
I recently went to my home state to visit my grandparents and then comes another shocker. I realized that all the people who lived in our town-village (I say town-village as my place is neither a village nor a town. It’s something in between and I don’t really know what the in-between is called) are all my relatives! My mind was blown away to some distant land.
How are they related? Well, they are some father’s brother’s son-in-law’s nephew’s dog’s best friend’s owner’s grandchild. Yes you read that right. But this is just about one person you know? There are plenty of others who are related to us like that. Normally we won’t consider such people as family, just friends. But no, not in my case. They ARE family and they will be invited for our cat’s wedding. Also when we build a house. Also when we celebrate someone’s pregnancy. Basically every household event, people like these are invited because they are family.
I don’t know how does everyone remember who is who and how they are related. And their names too! What is the secret to this great memory power of theirs? *Calls grandma to know how to get excellent memory*
Getting to know so many family members also means that you basically have every type of human that exists on this planet in your family. And they aren’t always of the good kind which saddens me a lot. My family members include a few gangsters, gossip kings and queens, pranksters, wannabee hipsters, wannabees and sadists. I feel that only I am the human among these bunch of aliens, and I don’t consider myself a human at times so that’s a shocking fact!
If an outsider would see one’s wedding photo album, they’d be astounded to see that there are more photos of family members rather than photos of the couple. And also the fact that if you take that album to my grandpa then he’ll tell you how exactly is every single person there related to us. I don’t think I want to marry because then I’ll have to get married in front of a bunch of people whom I don’t even know! Woah!
Well as much as I can go on ranting about this, I need to accept that these bunch of random strangers are my family. No matter if I don’t know them, I have to say hello to them and welcome the dialogue, “The last time I saw you, you were wearing those Gandhiji type glasses and you were so tiny!” with a smile no matter how pissed that line makes me. I will have to listen to my mom and dad talk about my grandpa’s brother’s neighbor’s son’s neighbor’s daughter’s brother -in-law’s – son’s fiance’s ex-boyfriend’s sister’s story!
I just have to bear with this drama. I have no other option…