Last weekend, we went to parents at our home town. And as always, mom told a lot of things about my childhood, which I felt like chronicling for myself.
It was a huge house, with our grandparents and families of four brothers including my father, living there. We must have been 40 people in all. So both mom and dad used to work. Mom was a teacher and father a clerk. My maternal grandma took care of me in early days. Those were the days of no-huggies, and homemade cloth nappies were used. So my nani used to take care of all those shitty, literally, things. My paternal grandma was not very keen on doing all that, I was told by mom. Okay, so a year or so after, my nani passed away. Then my mom’s deserted elder sister took care of me and later my younger brother. I had a very weak stomach, and docs advised drinking goat-liver soup. My paternal uncle took that responsibility upon himself. He brought the meat, boiled it and gave the soup to me, and enjoyed the liver himself. Sadly that uncle is no more now. And so is the aunt who had a very unfortunate train accident. May their souls rest in peace. By the way this uncle had a dairy farm, and we used to have milk straight from the udders of buffalows at times, and the butter-milk and fresh butter. Those were really the days.
OKay, so this and other paternal uncle used to teach me to abuse and call names to our parents as fun. I don’t have a real sister but cousins are aplenty. I was taken care of them when no one was around. And I faintly remember one or two older cousins having fun with me also, but those are childhood memories. So these cousins used to play with us, eat with us, and take us for walks.
There was always grandparents rooms, which were always a shelter when I was upset or wanted some alone time. My grand parents, as most are, were really nice people with no pretensions. My grandpa used to smoke hukkah, and once or twice we also enjoyed a smoke or two with him. Grandma used to make savoury sweet dishes and very tasty vegetables. She used to cook on earthen stove and the resulting taste was out of the world.
When a joint family lives together, there are always fights and quarrels, so my father and his brothers and their wives used to have usual fights but we were spared of the temporary animosities. And we could have lunch or dinner anywhere we wanted. My uncle who bought the first TV and fridge in our whole family, allowed us to watch movies and programmes and we used to borrow chilled water bottles and ice-trays from them.
WHen anyone of us fell sick, there were a whole lot of people who took care turn by turn. If our parents had to go out, they were not concerned about where we shall stay. We used to sleep in open verandah in the middle with 10-12 cots lined side by side, and enjoyed the open skies.
But now-a-days, joint families are a rarity. Even we are living separate from parents, as a nuclear family. Don’t know after 1-2 generation, will anyone remember joint family atmosphere or not.
An aside, today happy came to me and very respectfully said- I want to take your blessings for today’s interview. It gladdened my heart a lot, and I got the feeling of an elder brother. Some things even small give you great happiness, maybe happy knows this and therefore allows me to have this happiness. May god bless her.