Monday, October 27, 2008

Scrawny Tree

Families can be complicated organisms from what I have seen from the vantage point of my own extended one. Both my parents have a number of siblings and more cousins than anyone can keep track of. The family trees are dense and highly branched. Yet all my life my immediate family has felt somewhat alone, cut off from the trunk like we were a felled log cast to the side.

For the most part it has been okay because I prefer to do my own thing and don’t necessarily crave company. But it does get difficult at times – specially when J wants to know about her cousins, uncles and aunts and highlights how little I know about any of them - also how unacquainted they are with us. I realize I have not met some of these people in ten years or more and don’t even miss them that much. I’ve been that left-behind log for so long that I have grown quite used to it. Other forms of vegetation has grown around me in the form of friends, acquaintances, neighbors and co-workers.

While I have been able to adapt myself to the environment I was thrown into, J wants what she does not have. She hungers for a large, leafy tree with spreading branches to be a part of - she needs to feel the tug of roots that go deep. J has the most idealistic views about family and I am sure getting to know mine would prove quite deflating. No one is perfect, we don’t always play for the same team, we rarely agree about anything and all branches of the tree are not equal.

Branches,twigs and leaves are falling by the wayside, the tree is shrinking rapidly. Unlike our grandparents and their parents, families are much smaller and take much longer to get started. People are zealous about their space and protecting it. J’s generation has very few siblings – all they have is second and third cousins who have never met. In time, there will not be much of the tree left except in its poor cyber substitute in Orkut and the like. We will all need to learn to get by without the shady canopy that was once taken for granted. I guess I am lucky in that I have the most experience in surviving having been among the first to have been cast off.

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