Strange Family Ties

When anyone starts talking about importance of family and stuff like blood being thicker than water, you can be sure that reference to the Indian culture won’t be far behind. It’s like this, generations of our forefathers paid so much attention to keeping up pretenses of loving all those related by blood, that somewhere along the way the facade stuck and the lines between lies and truth got blurred. And what got dumped on the indian kid was holier than thou trash of the need to always behave respectfully towards relatives, no matter how selfish or crooked.

One of the biggest reasons (one that may or may not have any monetary involvement) why you will find Indians depressed/hurt/angry/lost/hopeless is because in any given situation, the so called lovely relatives will be the first ones to flex their claws and dig in. We Indians are such a sorry bunch of people, rarely does one come across a gem who is genuinely happy and supportive of a family member’s achievements and choices. In my opinion, the idea of a joyful extended family is completed over-rated, fueled by the overtly perfect picture painted in Bollywood movies. The truth is that the happy relatives one sees in the movies don’t exist in reality. What remains today is the hope that picture will someday come true.

For kids raised outside India, the value of family is stressed upon even more and expands triple-fold. To the extent that despite the obvious superficiality of the relationships, one is often forced to observe the niceties and bear narcissistic uncles, shrewd aunties and their good-for-nothing offspring. And god-forbid if these people happen to be somehow older, richer and/or socially well-known than your parents. Worshipping them will have to be accepted as the norm. I wonder how people who exist in this so-called ‘modern and educated’ society can be so hypocritical in their attitudes. They somehow have this bizarre idea of superiority and entitlement which they think gives them the right to encroach on other people’s personal life. I often think to myself, what is the point of having such relations? Why must we be so miserable in private yet present a happy image to the society at large? Isn’t it easier to be happy by maintaining a healthy distance and a respectful attitude towards one another? What is this need to establish yourself bigger than the other person, this greed to be worshipped and looked upon to as god at all times?

As we progress into the 21st century, the dynamics and demographics of family living are changing. Gone are the days when the joint family system was the norm and anybody stepping out of it was shunned by society. In today’s world, personal lives have taken on more importance and it is necessary to give everyone the personal space they deserve. It’s remains up-to the new-gen parents to teach their kids to be respectful at all times to everybody and not coerced into bowing down to someone only because of their age, stature in life and their place in the family.