From Amma With Love

I was telling my son the other day about a funny story from my childhood and it reminded me of how different family life is now than then.

To begin with family meant the extended family of grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, multiple generations who lived together in the same household. In addition relatives no matter how distant would show up without notice and stay indefinitely. And when events like weddings and festivals occurred even more people would travel from out of town to join in the celebrations and stay on afterwards, till the mood struck them to return home.

It was certainly difficult for the women who had to manage the house but for us children it meant there were always people around, of all ages to talk to, play with and seek comfort in. You never felt alone and in fact couldn’t be alone even if you wanted to.

We didn’t have TV, video games or the Internet but we always had people around us. 

I was particularly close to my aunt Singari whom I’ve spoken of before as a pioneer in promoting women’s education and a civic leader who worked for the common good in our city of Madurai. More important to me then, she was a warm and caring adult, always willing to listen to children and be their friend. As a young child I was always tagging along with her and my mother as they went about their daily routines.

That is until one day when they had the rare break in their duties and decided to go to the movies together … shockingly without me! I was inconsolable but they would not listen to my pleas and picked up the bus as it came in front of our house. Now I decided to take action and correct this injustice myself. 

I ran out the door and headed across the empty field to the bus stop on the main road which I knew was two stops from ours. When the bus came by I hopped on, unencumbered by such trivialities as money or bus tickets and proudly walked over to my surprised mother and aunt. We had a good time at the movies that day and this story about my indefatigable desire to be close to these two became a favorite in our family.

In this story of a child’s adventure, you see the close bonds forged with aunts, cousins and grandparents outside of the nuclear family so common today.