When I look back in time, I recall listening to folk songs sung by my grandmother.
I recall her making the spiciest pickles I’ve ever had in my life.
I recall bribing my aunt with hugs and kisses not to tell Ma that I broke her ear-rings, so she could replace it with new ones.
I recall coaxing my uncle to get Pau Bhaji for dinner when dad refused to buy citing health reasons I never understood.
I recall playing Holi with my cousins on days when it wasn’t even the festival. All we needed was a few colours, water and each other. The rest was taken for.
So, why am I recalling them all of a sudden, out of the blue?
Well, these scattered thoughts are a consequence of the latest TOI report that Delhi is now witnessing the disappearnce of exended families now. And, I couldn’t stop myself from ranting about it.
An obvious and primary reason for joint families increasingly turning towards the nuclear fashion is a world of cut-throat competition and the elusive search for power, job and monetary security. In the pursuit of assuring these securities to one’s own immediate family (self, spouse and children), we have become so self-absorbed, self-obsessed and self-centered that to stay and sustain a joint family simply seems too much to ask for. It is not a question of which is right or wrong, which is better but a question of why. Why are families breaking down? Why can’t two families stay together in peace and harmony anymore? What has changed in the way we lead our lives that has resulted in this flux?
Maternal, paternal and/or fraternal feuds have become too common and unavoidable to be given another chance. The concept of adjustment and compromise has long been boycotted. This is also because couples are already adjusting and compromising enough amongst themselves in order to look at the larger framework. The fact that number of divorces in India has increased is a different matter all together (though related in many ways in terms of the “adjustment” and “compromise” bit). Delhi is also the divorce capital of India with more than 13, 000 pending cases in court.
Perhaps Delhi should be lauded for being the national capital, rape capital, divorce capital, and now, nuclear family capital of India. According to the report, there are hardly any extended families left. Interestingly, these families that have now become smaller and nuclear were all once a part of a joint family at one point of their lives. The man who lives, today, with his wife and only son in a three bedroom apartment on a posh lane in Greater Kailash, probably once lived in the dingy lanes of Karol Bagh in a house that was crumbling due to the constant noise, commotion and voices in his house. And this noise doesn’t necessarily denote a cause for worry. A flat/apartment that houses more than 5 people is bound to make noises due to the sheer fact that there are a certain number of people all living together under the same roof. But what they do under the roof is what has changed over the years.
It is also noteworthy to mention here that Delhi, largely, has a fluctuating population, like most other metropolitan cities. The city is shaped by migrating people that gives Delhi its cosmopolitan colour. One needs to look at the report in this crucial context. If more than half of the people of Delhi already comprise of students, college-goers, men and women from other places in this city in search of work, employment or education, what population are we anyways looking at? What remains is a much smaller number, who have decided to continue to live in the city, at the cost of breaking up ties with their respective extended families.
Who knows what the years to come will indicate? Perhaps, no more marriages ten years from now. I’ll heave a sigh of relief for that, at least.