12 August 2009

Wanted : A Loving Family

"Dude, let me help you. What's wrong? You've been quiet the whole evening. That's not like you, John. Now tell me, what's the matter?"

I watched as John hesitated. I had a reputation for solving problems. It was a reputation I enjoyed. It felt nice being able to help others. And if there was anyone who needed help right now, it was John. He had accepted my invitation to spend the Eid holidays with my family, since his parents were still in the United States on a visit. He had been excited about it. That is, till he reached my house. From then onwards, he was quiet.

"You really want to know?" he asked me.

"Yes, I do."

"What if you cant help me? That'd make you feel bad, wouldnt it?" He smiled wryly. John knew me well.

"Cmon man. Just tell what's bothering you."

"Do you know where my parents are now?" John asked.

"Yah, they're in the US, right?"

"Yes. Do you know why they're there? Because they're visiting their family friends. That's what the counsellor asked them to do. To resolve their problems or something like that."


"Yup. Marriage counsellor. They're planning to get a divorce. I'm not surprised. If you'd spent a week in my house, you'd pay them to get a divorce. All this wouldnt have bothered me. I mean, I never had a loving family. My Dad never bought me a present on my birthday. Atleast he's out of town, so that's an excuse. My Mom's worse. She doesnt even bother to remember when it's my birthday. But you know why I'm thinking of all that now? Because, because I see how it's with you."

"With me?" I asked incredulously. I didnt understand what he was saying.

Just then my cousin brother knocked on the door. It was time for lunch, he said. As I got up, John moved towards the door. Before leaving, he turned around and said: "If you dont like your friends, you can drop your friendship. You can find new friends. You can choose whom to like, and whom to avoid. But with family - with family, you get just one chance. What do you do if that chance gets ruined?"

Eid Day Lunch was a festivity in my house. The table was surrounded by my father, mother, two sisters, my uncle, aunt, two cousins, another uncle, John and myself. As could be expected, there was a lot of talking, teasing and laughing. Plates were distributed, dishes were moved around. Everyone helped everyone else. Long stories were told. Jokes were cracked. The ladies blushed, the men shouted in mock anger.

For the first time perhaps, it all made sense to me. I could sense the love between everyone seated at the table. The witty repartee between me and my cousins; the way my mother told embarrasing stories about my childhood. Memories were brought back from years gone by; the table was filled not just with food, but a deep sense of happiness and satisfaction. It was one of the best lunches I ever had.

Later that evening, when everyone was out in the courtyard, having tea, John sat besides me. "So, what's your solution?" he asked. I had thought of it all along. What can we do if we have families where there isnt any peace, let alone love between one another? What can we do if our brother or sister, father or son, never give us the respect and happiness we deserve? I think he already knew what I was about to say.

"I dont know the solution, John," I said, perhaps for the first time ever. I looked at his face, a plastic smile hiding his emotions. At that moment I knew. The lunch we had, was one of the most painful experiences for John. It made him realise just what he was missing.

If you dont like your friends, you can drop your friendship. You can find new friends. You can choose whom to like, and whom to avoid. But with family - with family, you get just one chance. What do you do if that chance gets ruined?

"I dont know what the solution is..." I repeated again, more to myself, than to him.

[More than a thought, this post is intended to be a discussion. Please let me know what you're answer to John's question would have been. If you know anyone who feels the same way as John, please ask them to comment as well. If needed, please post the comments as Anonymous. This story is fictional, but as with all my posts, it's inspired from real life.]

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  1. Can't really say it was an eye-opener coz all of us have already heard of or experienced such situations. But I guess that's the whole point. You have to live with it. In the end, they're your parents.
    Nice post!

  2. You cant ask johns parents to a counselling or a talk..and if they really dont have a sympathy towards their child,its outof question!Rather,he will have more attention and care from me as my friend indeed!

    Nice read mohammed:)

  3. Hey, Long Time :)

    as its rightly put you can leave friends but not family. The parents should just be more sensitive to John and his emotions, also if they really cant get along well, then its better to separate and live a peaceful life rather than the suffocating atmosphere at home and making things difficult for all three of them, better to live apart and lead an amicable life and maintain the love and respect.

  4. Ya..certain situations are like open ended discussions..they never seem to get an eaact anw..its a pity that ppl get married but forget to respect each other...if nothing else a lesson can be taken from such ppl...a lesson of how not to live life, to learn from their mistakes.
    There are many kids who face such problems...they live with it..its a blessing to hve a family thats united and living in peace..those who have it shd thank God and those who dont shd pray that the journey ahead is peaceful and that matters become better....
    Hope ppl realise how imp it is to be aware of their actions...thanks for the wonderful story!

  5. this post almost made me cry :(
    poor john.. hope evrything turns out right for hime :)

  6. umm the solution mayb is him to start adjusting n think frm his heart n strt accepting his family for wat they r..n not be too demanding frm them..the day he does dat his life will be awesome!

  7. I agree with you Mustafa. It's hard to suggest something rationally without hurting his sentiments. We are indeed very fortunate to have such wonderful families. That's all I can agree with.

    I'm sure that he would have already tried talking to his parents to try and convince them against this decision. But was I in his situation, then I would... be in a big mess.