Recently I ran into my friend who had come down from the USA where he stayed with his wife and two kids. Catching up with him over a cup of Irani Chai I discovered that he had come down alone and not with his family. When he explained the purpose of his visit, I was touched and realized yet again that you can take a man out of India but can't take the Indianess out of him.
His dad who had touched 90 lived alone and my friend's sister and her husband stayed next door and looked after my friend's dad. It so happened that the sister had to go to another continent to visit her son and the brother-in-law had to go to China for 15 days on an official tour. This meant that my friend's dad had to live alone along with the help of a male nurse. My friend did not like the idea one bit. So he applied for leave and flew down for eighteen hours covering fourteen thousand kilometres spending a few thousand dollars so that his dad is not left alone even for a few days in his old age. He said he enjoyed the stay with his dad chatting up with him about politics, sports, religion and more, revelling in his invaluable company.
In a way when you look at it, the Indian culture is more family-oriented rather than individual-oriented. No matter how old the person, how unproductive a person, how distant a relative he is (sometimes we describe relationships in the third or fourth degree of separation – my father's sister's husband's cousin's son-in-law), they all have places in our lives. We may not look after them on a 24/7 basis, but we also don't allow them to sink either. A person has to mention how he is connected to us and we are willing to help him/her. Here a person doesn't marry an individual but almost like marries a family. Every time a marriage occurs in the family, we add another 20-30 relationships and get called for attending their marriages, son's first hair cut, daughter's engagement, grandson's marriage, son's in-law's brother's in-law's gruhapravesham. You lose track of the apostrophes which marks our connections. And when you add your friend's relatives, the universe expands multi-fold.
As a culture, we have given so much importance to relationships. People are our real strengths at any given point in time. We can lose all we have and still we can rebuild our life from scratch if we have supportive relationships. I hope we never lose our apostrophe connections!
What is the longest Apostrophe connection you can think of in your life?