I recently made this trip to my hometown and spent time with people who are related to me by blood, i.e. cousins, uncles and aunts. We have not met each other for a long time and had never really grownup together. Earlier, the times that we met up each other were the occasional family events, either someone’s marriage or death.
(I have always felt partly amused and partly sad about these connections when people come together either for connecting two people or saying goodbye to the departing souls as though our connections are based on something onerous happening in our lives. Otherwise, there is no need to connect.)
But I digress!
As I was spending time with my cousin and uncle/aunt for the last two days, I noticed how similar and how different was I vis-à-vis them. I am sure, readers who are reading this would have similar feeling about their family as well and everyone would be so, but to me some of these were discoveries, since I have grown up pretty much by myself.
There are many similarities that I noticed that exist in our angularities, in our obsessive compulsions, in the way we look at ourselves, and yet, how different were we in the way we look at the world, our preoccupations and concerns about the emerging nature of who we are in this family/extended family /community /society and the world in general.
The similarities are: (I love putting things in bullet points, ha ha!)
• In the nature of our preoccupations of keeping our surroundings (home, our stuff, etc) in a certain order as though if we don’t keep them in order, there will be a chaos that will befall us! (I am not sure whether we have ever assessed what will that be, apart from a vague idea of chaos)
• How are we perceived by others and how the captivity of these perceptions keep our internal demons alive in the nature of “I wish I could change myself, but I can’t”, “I wish I was received differently by the significant others”, “I wish things were different”, “I wish I could start all over again”, etc, etc.
• How alive, effervescent and joyful we can be, irrespective of how the world is around us. The tremendous “can do”, “never say die” optimism that run in our veins, the impatience (and arrogance) with which we look down upon the “lesser mortals” who can not comprehend/do/act the way that we do and so on and so forth.
This became even more apparent as I was talking to a cousin whom I have not met in the last 25 years or so. As we were catching up with each other, we compared notes about similar habits and she remarked that it was to be so because our blood was the same! I smiled at this belief and wondered whether it was really so!
As I looked at who I was today, I noticed how for me, some of the notions of who I am have changed. the changes are perhaps in the areas of (bullet point again!)
-the past is not that important and I have much less bitterness or regret about it
-I am more interested in the nature of the world, the society, i.e. who I am is not defined by my immediate “blood” relationships.
– I am much less apologetic about who I am today, hence perhaps less imprisoned in other people’s perceptions about me.
But I think what is most important is that the relations that I cherish the most, people who I go to most, people on who I have faith more than any others, people who I call my own, are none who were related to me by blood, but by friendship, by resonance, by similar life stories, by shared beliefs and world views and people who love me for who I am, critique me bitterly for what they think I should not stand for, stand by me when I am feeling down and just let me be, when I do not want them to be around, and people who believe I will be there when they need me.
I don’t think this is a general trend and perhaps I am a bit weird, but this is who I am and these are who my own are.
What about you? Who do you call your own? What does being connected by blood mean to you?
7 thoughts on “Reconnecting with “your own”….”
Very nicely written, in a crisp manner.
I can make some observation/comments from my own life and experience-
I was born and brought up toally away from relations, only my parents were there, in fact, perhaps I was lucky to be with/have them with me all through – except for about 6 years of my stay in Bombay, where I started my career-working. Though I have an elder brother, who is seven years older, he moved out and stayed with me for very short time. He went abroad and has settled there, though he keeps REGULAR contacts, but my parents always missed him.
My parents stayed with me as long as they lived and only contacts I had with my relatives – cousins, uncles, aunts etc was through my parents. Apparently, they spent their childhood in large/joint families. Whereas it was different for me. It was friends and local neighbours, who were always more important to me.
All this underwent drastic change, when I moved to Kolkata, where I never stayed earlier and never liked the city earlier. Both my parents were happy to have moved ‘back’ to Kolkata – where they had major portion of their student life. They had regular interaction with so many relatives, a arge number of them were strangers to me. Now, I have got used to Kolkata – in a limited way.
Similar, though not exactly same, is the situation with my wife. She stayed with her siblings for long time – also outside Kolkata.
Moving to Kolkata has made me a loner, lost friends/friendship – got in touch with large umber of relatives, who were quite different in their outlook towards life.
@ mazumdar: thank you for visiting my blog and sharing your life with us. looking forward to hearing more from you.
I agree a relationship is a mental state and I also believe it is about committment. Not in the narrow sense of the word, but as a much broader term. Two people in any kind of relationship are bound together by some kind of committment. So technically a blood relationship should not matter. But funnily, Where this theory trips us up, is the fact that the human brain is automatically wired to put committment on the table more easily, when a blood or family connection exists. Its like a hardwired response. So is it easier to establish a relationship with blood relatives? Perhaps yes?
@ Sandeep: Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comment. Not sure whether human brain is hardwired to respond more favourably to “blood connections” but our socialisation and acculturation surely do push us towards them. By the same token, it also “teaches” us to distrust the non blood ones far more easily.
I agree that blood relationships need not define us nor are able to make us feel closer to them vis-a-vis others around us. it is just a feeling of camaraderie that gives us a sense of belonging with certain people — even those whom we might never have met in person. Whereas relatives can actually make us squirm. But there is something called genes and that is inescapable. So your cousin might just have a point there.
btw, i love the new template bus miss your smile 🙂 😦
Zephyr: actually I find most people are far more comfortable with the relatives and even the extended ones. There is a sense of being with “one’s own” for them, even if does backfire from time to time. In fact, I think my example is quite atypical.
as for my smile, just visit the about page !! I removed it from the front page because it seemed far too narcissistic!! 🙂 may be not.
Perhaps a lot depends on the upbringing, early childhood, place where one grows up etc etc. This, in my opinion, plays an extremely important role in building up outlook of an individual and more so who have strong likes/dislikes and sttrong personalities. Perhaps, a psychologist will be able to put it up in a more clear fashion and explain the pros and cons. But, it is unlikely to make any major difference, as long as we have “humane” touch!