|(Pahal, last evening)|
Last evening we went to a nearby mall. We stepped out after a long time thinking Pahal needs a change (Btw, she is doing well, she is recovering). After a bit of shopping, we went to the food court. As I waited for Sanjay to bring our meals, I began noticing a small family that was sharing our table with us. It was just the three of them – husband, wife and a young girl of Pahal’s age.
The young girl kept coming towards me, maybe because she wanted to interact with Pahal. Each time she even leaned towards my side, her daddy gave her a stern warning – “baby.. wahan mat jao” (baby.. don’t go there). I told her it was okay but she still got warnings from him. It happened two times. I glanced at the man and noticed his serious expression.
The third time the baby came towards me, I politely engaged her in a conversation. Her father didn’t stop her this time. I asked her what was her name and she didn’t answer so her father tried to cajole her, “bata do.. naam bata do..” (tell your name). She finally told me that her name was Srishti.
Her mom returned after getting meals for her family and she got busy eating; she no longer came to my side of the table.
In the meantime, Sanjay returned with our meals. Pahal was on a pram and we two sat across from each other forming a small triangle. Sanjay and I together not only fed Pahal and bore with her tantrums, we also discussed a lot of things – the taste of the food, quality, busyness of the place, Pahal’s changing tastes while ill, the shopping that we did and more. Yet the couple next to us was silent, eating their food with few lines in between.
|(Pahal and I making fun of Sanjay in one of the family outings)|
That was it. This was all that happened. But it has stayed with me.
I have been thinking about how some families have their family time but do not have family interactions. I understand, “to each family his own”, but I feel how you engage with others as a family tells a lot about your family harmony and family interactions.
Sometimes we meet trusting families, where one family member makes a remark while another family member is absent, and when that absent person arrives he joins in the discussion swiftly and gently takes the remark (whatever it may be) positively and carries on with the conversation. Such is the trust that a family has within its members.
Last week, my sister-in-law, Didi, was here with her daughter. Their daughter scored 10 GPA in tenth class and this called for a celebration. To congratulate her, my neighbor gave a gift pack of chocolates to the young girl and asked for a party. Didi replied, “We will surely give you a party as soon as her daddy comes home”. Couple of days later, my neighbor was here along with Didi and Jeejaji. That is when Didi said, “we need to give her a party, so when we are going out?” to which Jeejaji politely smiled and said, “whenever you say”.
Her remark made me think, “Yes, it is extremely important to have coherence in one’s family”. This coherence and harmony is what gets reflected when we interact with others as a unit, as a family.
Sanjay and I have a policy – to never disagree in public. We still disagree though, but only when we are with people we can trust and we are comfortable with. In front of acquaintances, we always try to keep one, single line of thought. This helps us in three ways:
It helps align our thoughts when we do not know if we should clearly voice our opinions in a given situation.
3. It lets us test the other people. There is absolutely no need to open up your family in front of others you do not know well. Let only the near and dear ones know the differences and appreciate them.
You should talk as individuals in front of those who appreciate your individuality and understand the differences. Do not make your differences a subject of mockery and fun for others, you are only calling for insult upon you and your marriage.
Sanjay, Pahal and I are a small, nuclear family where we practice minimalism (in whatever ways we can). We do not indulge in unnecessary gossip or socializing, practice the fundamental virtues of life (honesty, trust worthiness and compassion) and immense love for each other. This is how we are and this is exactly how we engage with others as well.
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