Poornima Aggarwal has won the 2nd prize for the ‘WRITE AN ARTICLE’ contest held at the recent lectures at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai for writing this piece.
In recent years, when I questioned what “being related” meant, memories of years spent at my grandparents’ home fought for priority. In their dictionary, ” Being Related ” definitely meant “feeling a connection of oneness with another.”
My earliest memory of pure unbridled freedom and joy is visiting my grandparents in Panchgani during vacations. This was a bi-annual ritual, the memories of which sustain me even today.
Panchgani is synonymous with “HOME”. Even today, my first glimpse of the silver oaks of Panchgani even as the car climbs the Pasarni ghat, is heart warming.
My grandparents had only two kids- my mom and her brother – a typical nuclear family of today – and yet their home was always teeming with people of all ages, shapes and sizes. The odd time I asked my Ajji (grandmother) – “Who is this?” with regard to a new arrival, I was told, “He /She is your cousin/aunt/grandparent ( this depended on the person’s age) in a voice that said – NO MORE QUESTIONS!!
We learnt to live/play and share with people who were not always related to us – either by blood or marriage! Many were relatives of relatives, some were friends who had over the years become family and some were new acquaintances … who would no doubt soon become family!!
Both Ajji and Ajoba (grandfather) lived by the diktat…. ALL ARE WELCOME!!!
In fact I had another “grandmom” who lived with my grandparents. She routinely gave us dry fruits in little paper bags as a mid morning snack. All the kids would receive this package irrespective of their parentage. It was many years later that I discovered that Ajoba had “adopted” her as his sister, soon after she lost her husband at a very young age.
As a child, I remember going every morning at dawn (Its easy to wake up early while on holiday!!) with Ajji to the well to draw water for her Puja. It was a short but amazing trip with a bird orchestra in the background ( actually fore-ground will be more apt!), an awe inspiring sunrise up ahead and the crunch of dry leaves underfoot. To me this early morning trip was sacred. One day, a “cousin” decided to come along. I sulked at the intrusion, only to be told very clearly (albeit lovingly) by Ajji that I needn’t feel threatened because our bond would not alter in any way due to the presence of a third person.
Meal times always saw a full table- in terms of people and food! I now wonder where the money, time, energy and inclination came from. But for the two of them, it seemed a joyful and satisfying routine.
Sleep time was again a simple affair – mattresses were laid out and you simply slept wherever you found space.
The sense of Connectedness that we have enjoyed thanks to our seniors, needs to be passed on URGENTLY to the next generation.
Generally speaking, today “being related” refers to parents, spouse and kids. Any more additions to this list have to be justified.
Nowadays we seem to prefer Connecting via sms, Facebook and emails. Wonder why?? One reason could be because then we can disconnect at our own will. Face to face meetings make it difficult to disconnect as easily.
Any deep bond forged by a family member outside of the so-called family circle is looked upon as a threat. And yet, as we travel through this journey called Life, the Divine Power connects us to an amazing array of people and situations, each meant to help us achieve a little more of our as yet untapped potential – be it physical, financial, emotional, intellectual or spiritual. If only we kept the faith……….
We are ALL connected… for starters, lets simply believe this truth!!!!
Some years ago, a chance encounter with an elderly lady made a huge difference to my Life and continues to do so. The guidance and support my adopted mother (thats what I call her) gives me is just what I require. Yes, we are definitely related…. through LOVE.