Let me ask you something.
What’s that first thought in your mind when I say the word “family” to you?
I’ll tell you what it means to me.
It means warmth and comfort. It means an always-full belly. It means waking up to the smell of porota and dim and aloo bhaji in the morning. But most of all, it means having a constant presence of love and adoration 24/7. Those have been some of the things that I’ve been missing in my life lately.
You see, I live on my own, and seeing my family in our ancestral home-village is always a special treat. So I made an arduous 12-hour long journey on a really hot day in a non-A/C bus to spend Eid with my Nan — and I brought gifts.
That’s got to make me her favourite grandson, right?
What awaited me was a feast — nay — a smorgasbord of my most favourite foods.
Everything made in that special way that only my Nan can make it. What made it even better was my Canadian cousins being in the country to pay a visit as well.
All of a sudden it felt like a family reunion circa 2005: A time when we all had less responsibilities and a lot more fun.
I had missed that.
Missed playing football in the local fields under the sun all morning-long, then coming home and taking a cold shower before sitting at the table creaking under the weight of so much food.
Missed hanging out with childhood friends and the time spent in adda with them, because squad goals.
Missed having so many adorable cousins around me who all want chocolates (and money). Those cheeky young-’uns!
Missed being carefree.
I guess, in a roundabout fashion, this is what I’m trying to say: Family means being able to enjoy myself around some of the most unconditionally loving and caring people in my life.
Over these past few days, I’ve felt that — I’ve eaten well (too well), played (lost) more ludo games than I’d care to admit, and have felt more fulfilled than I have in a very long time.
The connection of family stays alive in our culture, by a bond stronger than our personal walks in life, our geographical distance, or our cultural upbringings. That bond ties us all together.
My ancestral home is like my anchor. An anchor that holds together so many bonds and relationships and feelings so that we never lose touch.
And we are like ships going from place to place, doing things, being busy with both all the things and nothing at all, trying to make waves in this metaphorical ocean we call our lives.
So every once in a while, it is refreshing to return to port. It revitalises us, charges our batteries, and feeds our soul.
When the family gets together, we are very much like ships at a large port, held together and in place (for a time, at least) by this anchor.
Let me ask you again.
What’s the first thought in your mind when I say the word “family”?