Though I was born last in my family of four siblings, the age difference between me and my eldest brother was two decades and I was completely educated and brought up in Chennai, I came to be known to many of my father side as well as mother side relations.
It is because I used to talk on all topics and my memory in remembering faces and names helped a lot. In spite of that there were some cousins and their families stayed away. Destiny is such a strange fellow that he made me go and interact with many of my first cousins and their families though they are otherwise not close to my family.
There is one cousin for me in Mumbai who has been almost out of touch with our family. He shared some relationship at least with one of my uncle’s family though. But I had been to his house in Mumbai a couple of occasions and on one particular instance I even stayed with them for a week. But his dad, my uncle was very fond of me and never used to miss any opportunity to visit me whenever he comes to Chennai though age wise I was much younger to him. His wife, my aunt, was also was quite talkative with me. My uncle passed away in 1997 and my aunt just a couple of years before.
I offered my condolences to my cousin over the phone on my aunt’s demise. Recently he performed the marriage of his last daughter at Chennai with a Maharashtrian bridegroom, being a love marriage. Their love seemed to have sprouted and blossomed at the USA when both met during their higher studies. I was invited for the marriage and in fact I was just wondering why he chose to perform the marriage at Chennai when he had completely become a Mumbaikar for all practical purposes. His one son is also in the US and his eldest daughter alone lives at Chennai but we hardly met her.
Except my cousin none could recognize me when I went for the marriage. The other cousins who had come on invitation and with whom I share better rapport were sitting in a corner and chatting. His sons and daughters as well as his sister’s sons and daughter are strangers to us. Of course we introduced ourselves and try to strike some general conversation with them. But there was absolutely no familiarity in that.
When the direct and same generation itself is having difficulty in relating to each other how can we expect the next generation to share camaraderie with persons whom they hardly know? The reason must be that they would not have even talked about us to their children since they themselves were not in communication with us.
I remember my cousins’ mother side grandma was a very intelligent and elegant woman by any standards during her time. She passed away long back. But when I asked one of her great grand sons in their family whether he knows or heard about his great grandma who used to be a picture perfect in all respects, he said he doesn’t. It was surprising to me and I told him to just ask his mom anytime about her great grandma and her elegance. He smiled and agreed.
We live for today. True. We have to. Yesterday has no value. True. But people of yester years carry definitely some value. When the generation in their own family is not aware of the great woman in their family how can I expect them to recognize or relate to me? At least my cousin recognized me but his wife could not even remember either me or my name.
When I met with a road accident and hospitalized for three long months, being a bachelor I was taken care of my close friend and his family. My entire office turned up frequently to take care of me. Only one cousin visited me in the hospital once. My own brother who had snapped all connections with our family never even bothered to attend any death or marriages.
I felt sad. Relationships, however close or far, survive mainly on memories, anecdotes and communications. When the first cousins themselves stay away from each other how can we expect the next gen to follow the relationships? When that itself has become a matter of rarity, there is no purpose in lamenting over fading relationships. In the present day world close friends alone are your relatives and families. None of the blood relatives can be expected or dependent either at the time of emergency or need.
Relatives can be invited for such occasions to share some happy moments tinged with traces of disappointment. Period.