Amongst all that God has given me in life, I have always felt that my wonderful family is the highest blessing. Growing up with a bandwagon of uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents is an experience unparalleled to anything else and has gone a long way in shaping all of us young people in the family into wholesome individuals.
Almost all of us are settled in Chennai now but about 15 years back, each of my dad’s brothers were settled in different places. But still, it was always made sure that we kids spent our summer holidays together and the entire family would get together for Diwali at my eldest uncle’s place every year. Seventeen people tucked away in one house. Kids bursting crackers, mothers busy in the kitchen (shooing away some naughty ones as they tried to whisk away some eats), people all over the house – the scene would be noisy and chaotic. But what fun it was!!
Years later now, even with all of us busy pursuing our chosen professions, nothing has changed. The bond that we cousins share with each other, the interest each uncle and aunt takes in every one of our lives, the way we all get together to perform important events in the family, the yearly trips we take to pay our respects to the family deity – all this gives a feeling of such warmth and happiness and weaves a web of togetherness and security around each one of us. The wonderful people who have come in by marriage are no exceptions. They have blended so well, extended the family circle and proved to strengthen the bonds even further.
Today if each one of us are emotionally well balanced individuals who have made it to reasonable positions and situations in life, it is primarily because of this strong foundation that being a united family has built. It has taught us so much. Sharing, adjusting with each other, giving in for the sake of another person, genuinely feeling for each other’s successes and setbacks, being there to support each other during difficult times, respecting elders .. I could go on ..
Now, aren't these qualities essential for any human being to be able to live peacefully in society? How a child turns out to be is hugely dependent on the parents who bring up the child and the environment that the child grows up in. A happy and secure environment filled with warm relationships that involve sharing and coexisting will give the world a wholesome individual who can face the challenges that it inevitably poses and come out successful. As a corollary, a child brought up in a lonely environment where relatives are seen as unwanted disturbances and cousins, uncles and aunts are considered as separate entities who have to be competed with in terms of wealth, positions held etc would in all probability end up a being a self centered person with no space for anyone else in life.
But sadly, many people today have become too busy and self engrossed to pay attention to relatives or to take efforts to get together. We may be in touch with everyone through phone calls and social networking sites. But nothing in the world can compensate spending time together. The bonds formed via the internet are only virtual and as rightly put by dictionary definition, they only ‘appear’ real.
And to top it all, the media is acting irresponsible too. I was aghast seeing a commercial recently where an old man comes as a guest to a house and the mother immediately frowns with disapproval at the unexpected ‘disturbance’. The child catches the hint and the ad goes on to show how the child ‘intelligently’ drives out the ‘unwanted guest’(as the ad quotes).
What has the world come to? And where are we heading? At this rate, the world would be filled with selfish individuals who cannot even tolerate one another, leave alone contributing to each other’s life. Is that what we really want?
You can be a nuclear family, no harm. But take the effort to live as a whole with your extended family. Celebrate festivals together, perform family events like marriages, housewarming, thread ceremony together. Do not say you don’t have the time to attend a family function. You should be there in the forefront ensuring that it happens well. The joy that comes out of this would be worth all that you gave up to be a part of it. Being a united family would ensure each one of us turn out to be complete human beings and also bring up children fit to live in society. It would in fact, ensure we groom a healthy and wholesome future generation itself.