It is interesting how I am learning new things while my kid goes to school. Today is International Day of Families, I would not have stopped to check about it had it not been a project for the little one’s school. Day for the families? Interesting? People we take for granted! Can they ever become irrelevant to you in spite of the differences?

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I woke up to make pancakes. The school had indicated that one of the parents should join the kid during the online class and everyone will have brunch together. What transpired was nothing short of mayhem, as most of this month of May has been! Online classes for kids, working from home, bushy eyebrows, erratic periods, no grocery slots, you get the drift! The pancakes though appreciated by the husband weren’t a hit with the young man of the household. A juggler par excellence also cannot ace all these duties! And with a very heavy heart, I sat to write this.

What transpired was nothing short of mayhem, as most of this month of May has been! Online classes for kids, working from home, bushy eyebrows, erratic periods, no grocery slots, you get the drift!

We have all written essays on the importance of having a family as students but most of us never understood why we wrote them. We all know about how families hand us down traditions, teach us values, give us security, and companionship. It is also true that a lot of times family members find it difficult to understand each other and eventually, even if they are staying under the same roof, they drift apart. I know a lot of young girls who are finding it very difficult to stay with their families under the current lockdown. I also know of some people who decided to brave this alone and now are desperate for company.

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In Indian families, even in the most liberated ones you are taken care of, it is only when you fend for yourself that you realize the privilege you have. Sometimes, you don’t even then especially if you are a man, but that’s a story for a different day. I remember when I started staying away from my family, I wondered how quickly the teacups kept piling up in the sink till I made an effort to wash them, and with my mother around the sink will be always clean. As a kid, it used to be a full-fledged experiment at home to make the potatoes grow eyes. Now I have to make an effort for them to not get them! Despite the differences, parents often work as house-elves you never get to see them labouring.

I know a lot of young girls who are finding it very difficult to stay with their families under the current lockdown. I also know of some people who decided to brave this alone and now are desperate for company.

Yes, there are a lot of things which do not get discussed and get hushed under the carpets, remove the carpet in an Indian household and you will find a Pandora’s box there. There is a need to clear under that carpet and it can be done by giving equal power and control to each member rather than one person calling all shots and by accepting each other’s choices without judging them.

Despite the differences, parents often work as house-elves you never get to see them labouring.

We are changing, with grandmothers joining zoom calls, it is clear that we are reinventing our relationships. And as we do that, we need to tell our children that the mummy & papa and brother & sister are not the only happy family, they can come in any shape size or gender and they all have the right to be equally happy. Dysfunctional families are families too. We also need to tell them that we need to appreciate each other when we make efforts. And taking a step in sorting out your differences is an equal responsibility of each and every member.

By the way, the UN started celebrating International Day of Families in 1993, maybe this year you can start doing so too?

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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