Unraveling Threads

Posted: November 26, 2012 by Arushi in Thoughts
Tags: , , , ,

Its called a family tree. It’s something so entrenched into our minds that when we’re explaining our families to someone else that is how we do it, using a structure with lines constantly radiating outward.

Is that what we are? Is that how we are?

To me family is an unraveling thread. The strands separate and keep on moving apart and yet we get tangled with each other. Yes, this strand is from the right most corner and that one comes from the left most and yet, look, here for a while they were enmeshed together. It is not something that a ‘tree’ can explain.

How will it ever explain that the third cousin who acts so distant with everyone now actually spent a few summers with us and we became the best of friends? Or that I have a soft spot for that aunt because she always remembers what I like and makes sure its served when I come over? Because I am that important to her even if we’re so distantly related that many people would never even get the relation?

How do you translate into adulthood that fact that these people who have now been relegated to a distance by this tree while they were right next to you the entire time you were trying to grow up? They helped you finish your homework, or did it for you. They were the ones you pulled all your dumb stunts with and the they helped you cover it up. When you get together you tease each other mercilessly yet there are times when you sit there wondering where the heck has your camaraderie gone?

We need to uncomplicate everything. To make it easier to understand, compartmentalize. I understand. Some distance has come with time, with age. Everyone has chosen a different path after all. Yet there remains the glaring fact that to create a distance now just because it confuses everyone else, feels like a betrayal. Not just theirs because they will understand, or not, but they’re family and have no recourse, but my own.

It is now surprisingly difficult to maintain the friendship that you thought would last your entire life, because suddenly it does not matter that you’re friends, it only matters that you’re cousins. Because while you did grow up together, while you used to share everything, anyone who meets you now will only understand that you’re cousins.

The further apart you are on that tree, the more your friendship will seem like a crime to those who do not know you. Who were not there when you were having your adventures together. They only know one of you now, and they need to compartmentalize. You’ve been labeled cousin and it is not allowed to reach for a relationship beyond that label. As if, you’re only allowed to be friendly in direct proportion to the distance between you in the tree. The actual relationship between you as people does not matter.

If someone ever gave me that disparaging look when I was around one of my friends, I would wither them in return. But this is different. I am not just a friend and hence I stay silent, I watch and I fume. After all, now I am just some cousin, not the sister. And in today’s world only the sibling, it would seem, is important.

That is the beauty of family. No recourse.

Two days from now, my mother’s first cousin is getting married.

All that tells you is that there may be a disparity of age between my mother and her cousin. It does not tell you that I am the same age as more than a few of my mother’s cousins. It does not tell you that we all pretty much grew up together. It does not tell you how many festivals we celebrated, or how many pranks we pulled, the things we did, all of us. It does not tell you that for the longest time she was the sister I never had. It does not tell you that her husband to be does not even know my name. It only tells you our respective places on the tree.

It does not tell you anything and it tells you everything. Someday we may go back to being a family thread, but for now it would seem, we’re stuck with the tree. Then again, maybe we can hang threads from the branches. Stubbornness does tend to run in the family.


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