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The Other Side Of Togetherness

Time was when I was embarrassed to tell people I have a large family and much of five siblings. But I am sad today, sad at seeing off an inconsolable sister leave for another continent to start her new life, sad we cannot freeze time to when it was its non-stop best. Those were my childhood days -- when the five siblings got together at the dining table and drove mom nuts with our likes and dislikes, when the furious five played table tennis (so what if I was often turned to a ball boy), badminton, seven stones, why even house-house. Softening the edges was Pucchee our dog. With him, we also liked to think we were Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Buster. Come evening, we would freshen up, sing our kirtans or prayers and sit down to a serious business called studies in the face of a strict academically-inclined father, who harboured the greatest ambition for his kids -- a government job with its respect and pension, of course. Like himself.

Life was routine. Our traditional holiday was two months in the village with grandparents and uncles, aunts, cousins, who would look up to us, the town kids. The most popular activity was the large joint family sitting in the courtyard as the day drew to a close. Under many a moonlit sky -- there were kirtans, snacking and my master story-teller uncle holding fort, while I ended the evening with a song, a dance or an elocution (oh how I loved to show off), much to the embarrasment of my siblings who would run away when called for one. The revelry was incomparable, it was just good to be together.

And then with the years came the dismantling of togetherness. My brother was the first to leave the cosy den. For the first time, I saw my parents cry as they bade their only son bon voyage. When my sister and I left home, my dad's letters stressed on how much he missed the cacaphony in the house. And when Pucchee passed away, for weeks he continued to pick up the bread which Pucchee loved, on his way back from work. It's almost impossible to let go off some things in life.

Looking at then and now, my tears were cheap. Or so, said my siblings because they would fall at the drop of a hat. Even calling my face a samosa was enough reason. Strangely enough, now they seldom well up even as I am nursing sadness right now in the solitary confines of my room. What persists is a touch of pain... BUT I continue to thank God for the merriment, joys, noise, and bedlam of my large family.


Anonymous said…
Hey, you do write well and it was a pleasure to read. Maybe you should keep the conversational tone while writing (or re-writing) everything else too. Keep it up!

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