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Joint Families- Not everyone’s cup of tea!

The intro:

Where to begin? Well, it’s definitely a roll-coaster ride! I guess it’ll be safe to say it’s annoyingly insane yet amazingly interesting at the same time. A great deal of difference is observed when you take a dip in the outside world, and try mingling with some people other than the genetically connected beings.

The illusion:

Well in naive years of life, you think it’s totally normal for 15-20 people living under one roof, and find it completely normal, until you meet that one next door friend of yours living just with her parents (and a dog may be) which eventually kept you wondering “Where is her whole family?” Where are her father’s siblings, their children, their wives and their children and the never-ending list of people? Don’t their house feels empty or more like how do they get by the whole day without getting bored? “Oh what a sad life they have?”, would empathise my dumb brain.

The realisation:

When every day feels like a festival happening around in your house, back in the days I still remember when there comes up some village-based marriage where apparently the whole family has to end up at, but perhaps you stay back due to some very urgent unavoidable reasons (tuition classes obviously). Studies before parties always! Well, that’s just another topic worth rambling about. Anyway coming to this part, those were the times when you spend little time with a finger countable number of people at home and actually hear pin drop silence which you only get to hear for few seconds at school after getting shouted at by the class teacher probably.

And this is the time you realise, “where was this peace the entire time?”, “Why does it feel so good?” “Why the house doesn’t feel empty and I find this solace guiltlessly soothing?” For a teeny tiny moment that feeble thought just passes by your mind, “Isn’t that friend of yours always getting this environment?” “And ain’t she not actually unhappy?” But my gullible mind, brain-washed by relatives’ truish love and blind-folded by parents’ virtues about joint families, bring back my wondering heart under strict ruling quoting, “We are good and probably happy, forget about your friend”. Half of your childhood just passes silencing those conflicting voices in your head about how perfect your living environment might not be.

The voices against vices:

Fast-forward to some years ahead, you stay away from your home, you get to stay with friends who somewhat become your family. You have fun and also able to discuss your mind out entirely without getting shut off by the never-ending voice of strictness, “Don’t think about this, those are foolish thoughts, just concentrate on your studies”. Well, actually this is the voice in every house and not just in joint families, except in later case the strict voices come from various unsolicited sources apart from your parents.

When you are showing your face in-between years and go to greet people then, “What are your future plans?”, is their constant enquiry. The urge to escape those queries become so much that you sometimes just skip visiting them and directly meet them once just a few moments before leaving the house; with them questioning, “When had you arrived earlier?”, and you replying while walking away, “Two days ago, okay bye I’m getting late for bus”. So that was visiting and avoiding at the same time.

The food policy:

The food distribution is something which will surely gear you up for your hostel life (if you happen to end up at one). The food distribution is in sync with the size of the plates depending upon the age limit. So automatically you end up getting a sizeable amount of food with the rare possibility of getting any extra. But if that extra desire is too much, then either your mom or your relative says, “Oh for sure I can’t eat too much, take it”, it’s sweet and sad at the same time. Why isn’t there enough food? The food distribution is so bizarre that sometimes, the quantity given at the hostel mess seems to be more. But no matter the amount, the kitchen caretakers always made sure everyone is full to their throats with food, it’s somehow managed magically (I think it’s the rice quantity, of course, it is).

The kids’ factory:

Well the kids, they are always there! Be it the shrill cry of a few months old babies, or the mid-fight shout of the toddlers or the yelling by eldest uncles/aunts at the maids, we have it all. There isn’t any day sans the noise made by anyone from the above categories. You never really run out of any kind of entertainment. Sometimes it’s fun to witness but when your mood swings are crazy, you surely want to go pick one of the irritants and throw it out of the jungle (oh sorry house). But eventually, you are pacified by your mother by the usual words, “They are family only”, (blood is thicker than water reigns all the time <insert frustrated emoji>).

The flavoured family pack:

Living away from home you also miss major festivities in your life(cousins’ marriages, their anniversaries, their children’s birthdays, etc). Every year is pretty eventful, perhaps every month as when you return home you get to hear surprisingly interesting spicy stories happening around. No hard feelings but the gossips are real. The people who you believe to be ideally good in your childhood are actually real humans with real issues (Not saying bad, it’s just they are as imperfect as everyone else).

But anyhow the love and care for everyone, the concern when anyone gets ill, or the bit of sadness when someone is gone for a few days are surely evident. Because no matter, how much you’ll miss the noise and welcome sanity, you’ll surely want those crazy beings surrounding you. The family trips are the times, when you really feel blessed, as it’s super boring with only your family members and fun rises exponentially with everyone else. The relationship with cousins is bittersweet and super fun during outings. It’s the time of occasions and adversities when you’ll actually see these jointly living fellows as a family. And that’s a wrap to my current every day (as I’m stuck at home during lockdown) thrilling experience (Or is it really?).

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