A wise man once said that cousins are your first best friends. They know everything about you and you can share anything with them but this holds good only till you grow and get married because everyone is honest to the core during childhood but things change with time.
I really don’t know where to start on this topic “Punch-nama of relatives and cousins in India” as it is endless. Punchnama in Hindi means report. Generally it’s a report made at the crime sceneJ. After some recent personal experiences and after hearing to many tales from friends I finally decided to pen down my thoughts. Whenever you attend any party or a wedding in India there is no escape from the nosy relatives, cousins or distant cousins whose names you forget with time. Unless until you are wearing some invisibility cloak or can disappear with a tiny flick of your index finger, they barge in to your comfort zone and make it extremely uncomfortable in a micro-second. I feel many can connect to the below anecdote. I am sure you would have faced the same many a times.
Meena is a pretty girl in the family. Her mom has a couple of brothers and a couple of sisters, her dad has a brother and a sister and too many cousin sisters and brothers. They are so many that she lost count. “Damn. Giving birth to as many as possible was a prestige factor I guess in those days.” Meena always thought to herself. It’s easier to be that kid in turban from kuch kuch hota hai and count stars rather than counting her relatives. All these people occasionally meet only in weddings or any family functions where a crowd bigger than the hum aapke hain kaun clan gather and chit chat. Meena unfortunately decided to attend one such nondescript wedding as it’s been long since she met her relatives. Also her mother insisted that many want to meet her. Meena finally decided she will go, if not for people at least for the magical food spread!
Ten minutes in to the function hall a fat aunty approached her.
Aunty: “Oh. Meenaaaaaaa! It’s been ages. Remember me? I am Visaalaakshi aunty! Oh my god. You are glowing.” Saying so she pulled her cheek.
Even if it was repulsive Meena resisted her urge to slap aunty and smiled.
Aunty: “So what’s cooking lady? You are radiant! Is there any good news in store?” questioned aunty with overloaded enthusiasm.
Meena looked confused and her mother stayed calm
Meena: “I didn’t get you.”
Then someone called Visaalaakshi and she left. The bell rang and Meena realised that aunty was asking if she got pregnant. She had to face the same question five times by the time the wedding function ended. She was exhausted to reply or to even give a silly smile when ever people asked. Why is every relative after her pregnancy? How will they benefit if she added a branch to the family tree? For sure nobody will remember even if it’s a boy or a girl once the baby is born. Indian mentalities always amuse Meena. Posing the most uncomfortable questions, creating an embarrassing situation, fighting over petty issues and faking the already fake emotions are the unique arts which we Indians master at. Few more common questions which you have to face if you have a big family are:
· Why your son or daughter is not married yet?
· Just when you complete the first year of your married life, even before your anniversary finishesà when will you get pregnant? Why are you not planning? Is there any problem? This question is not only asked by oldies or aged aunties and uncles but also the friends of your age who became aunties after giving birth to a bunch.
· Where are you working and how much you earn and what is your take home? How much you spend on a dress or an outing? These questions increase when aunties have kids who don’t work.
· If you are a stay at home mom or a wife, what will you do in free time? (It’s usually presumed that you have all the time in the world)
· Why that so and so rant aunty is dull in a so and so function? So on so forth. The list will never end.
Giving importance to relatives is fine as they are invited but some people expect a royal treatment. You have to follow their footsteps, take their advice, bend to their orders and serve lunch in golden plates, wine in silver ware. O.K. The last bit is exaggerated but seriously some people love being grim and putting up their trademark gloomy expression whenever they attend a happy function. They not only successfully spoil the party mood but also celebrate their victory once the party is over. If one wants all these services along with a complimentary spa voucher and also a free gym facility one can always book a room at Oberoi or Leela Kempenski or some other seven star hotel instead of visiting a home with just ok facilities and becoming a pain in ass to the host!
My rant is overJ . Like Meena I also decided that I should seldom attend the parties. Lastly I want to say that be gentle and try to increase smiles when you are in a group. If you are claustrophobic please don’t attend. We will never miss you. Once a friend said that relatives contribute only to add pages to the photo albums and nothing else.
~ Afshan Shaik
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