Response to the writing prompt “Love is”, this post discusses love as it was when children grew up in large families and everyone lived together as one big family. Sonali Banerjee shares a facet of life that will probably be unknown to the current generation and the ones in the future. As always she keeps it real and very simple.
One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life I think is to have a happy childhood —Agatha Christi.
In the era that I was growing up, they truly believed it takes a village to raise a family and there is a reason that this saying exists. Childhood has a different sense of happiness when you grow up around family and extended family, more so if everyone lived under the same roof in what was called in India as a Joint-Family. A concept tough to even imagine in today’s generation of nuclear families.
But talking about love, I always reminisce my childhood and all the love and affection I received from everyone in the family. I find myself enveloped in the memories of that love.
I was born in a large joint family with my three uncles and two aunts( father’s siblings) and my one and only grandmother whom I used to call Mummum,all living in the same house. Mummum always wore a smile on her face, had soft hands and white silk-like hair. I remember drawing with chalk on the veranda floors in the lazy afternoons. On those afternoons, I also used to lie next to her and listen to her stories non-stop. She used to be my partner in whatever I liked to do, sewing, playing with dolls or an imaginary pretend game. She always loved to cook my favorite dishes. Whenever I needed some extra money I always knew where to go.
|The long corridors and their endless memories
The terrace of the house had an elaborate dollhouse and my friends would gather to play with me there. The house was filled with warmth and there was room for everyone and everyone was welcome. My dolls were not any exception.
As I was the first child in our family, I was a pampered child. Everyone took care that I was never upset. I remember vividly that if I ever cried for any reason everyone would run to ask my mother – “Boudi(sister in law) why she is crying?”
It always was a very comforting feeling to know so many people cared so much for me. For a child, this is the most important feeling – to be loved and cared for. There was always someone there for me and it was not my parents all the time.
I loved everyone as much. I loved my uncle so much that every morning when I woke up I would run and plant a kiss on his cheek. When my uncle was transferred to another city, I still woke up in the morning and blew kisses in the air for my uncle…thinking that he will get them…
One day my mothers and aunts were planning to watch a movie without my knowledge. My cousin sister, who knew their plan, told me before leaving for school that if they go without you, just start crying. I don’t think I understood her instructions well. However according to the plan I started crying when my mom and aunts began to get ready. When they asked as to why I was crying, I told them it was because my sister had asked me too, obviously not understanding the outcome of my action. Such was the innocence. I remember everyone had a good laugh, but I do not remember if they took me to the movie or not.
Going out was one of my favorite things to do. We would take a rickshaw to a relative’s or a friend’s house. We did not have to plan ahead or call anyone. There were no telephones in most homes. You could plan impromptu visits.
There are many such fun stories. I could go on and on. My childhood was beautiful because of the people in it. In today’s times when the concept of a joint family is almost laughable, I wanted to mention this facet of love that will be unknown to this and future generations.