MI really, absolutely cannot write this post as a touching description of my family members. I know this whole blogging challenge was about making me write about things which I usually dont write about, in ways I usually dont write in. But I still cannot do that. Maybe I will
use this as an opportunity to ruminate on how I manage discomfort with my family.
I was always uncomfortable with the notion of families being the supremely good institution, which gives meaning to life. They certainly
give meaning to life, but in both positive and negative ways. Much of what you do could be for your family, eitherrted because you cherish them so much, or because you cant stand to be thought of as a failure in front of them.
Neither do I think families are always altruistic, watching out for each other. Survival of the fittest applies as much to families, as it does to any other human institution, though what is defined as survival, and who is fit to survive may vary among families.
Its only when I started doing my post graduation, and got familiar with basic theories of sociology and feminism, that I acquired a critical lens to look at family. Even though these new lessons only resonated with what I had already understood, it was quite unsettling, Its quite difficult to perceive parents, grandparents and other loved ones as part of a patriarchal system who are out to control you. Its quite hard to digest the fact that much of your family may be steeped in deep casteism, which they have internalized so much that they dont even realize it. Its hard to accept your own family in the role of a right wing fanatic, even though I am still confident that none of my immediate family is going to be part of a trident wielding mob, out for the blood ofthose who don’t belong. I realize that much of
the prejudices my family harbors may be hurtful, insensitive and insidious, but I draw comfort from the fact that they will not indulge in violence or outright harm (insensitivity may be a greater crime than violence, but I am still willing to accept it).
I have now moved beyond the unsettling discomfort of a fresh graduate. Relationships with families have changed, I have become a
part of a new family, whose ethos are in some ways very similar to mine, and in some ways fundamentally different. I think finally what has helped me achieve this relative stability is the realization that you cannot always simultaneously love, respect and adore people. You may love people you don’t really respect (except in the conventional,expected, familial way). You may respect somebody you dont really love. And you may respect people in different contexts and circumstances.