Sunday, 23 November 2008

Social expectations

I am a bit of an anti-social in the Indian interpretation of the term.

I have been known not to visit home for two years at a stretch at times. Right now, I have not seen my folks for 15 months. This amazes a lot of people I know, specially since I inhabit the same country as them. It is quite unusual in a country with such strong family ties as India.

Another trait that my folks complain about is my apathy to make regular phone calls to them. It is quite the norm here (specially so among the ethnic group that I belong to), that people living away from their families, call them up regularly or at least on alternate days. I fail to comply.
Quite often , I receive calls from home asking " What's the matter with you, you have not called for over a week now. Is everything all right?" or " Why don't you call us? We get worried."
I tried to make them understand that if anything did happen to me, they would be the first person to know. So, by extension, if I do not call, it means I am fine. It did not work.
I still continue to be chided at times for my unwillingness to do the responsible Indian child thing.

But the greatest dilemma faced by my antisocial un-Indian self is when it comes to Death.

At times, when such unfortunate news reaches me, I am always at a loss.
I always prefer to visit the family in person. Under circumstances when that is not possible, the phone call is customarily the next appropriate alternative. But what do you say? How do you share the grief, be an emotional support, or do whatever that you're supposed to, through a phone call, sitting miles away?
It is not that I do not feel all that, but how do you express that?
Even when I am attending in person, I prefer to remain silent. Letting my act of being present beside the family at such a time speak for itself. But when you have to substitute a silent presence with a phone call, it stumps me.

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7 comments:

  1. Nah, Aby dearest, you are no social misfit again. You havent met your folks over 15 months.. you know its because circumstances have not permitted and thats it... doesn't necessarily have to be interpreted as lack of feelings for family.

    Phone calls daily leave you with nothing new to say. But you being away from your parents leave a void near them [although it has been like this since ages now].. talking to you bridges the gap partially.. just the sound of your voice does the trick. These are emotions difficult to understand and lest you contend these sentiments, the answer you would get is "Be a parent yourself and you would understand.."

    And about death... your ideas are perfectly correct.

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  2. Hmm...thanks for the comforting words.
    As for being a misfit..well there are issues which run much deeper...issues which i hinted at in the previous post..anyway, being one or not being one, does not bother me.

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  3. i dont think any of the thigns you have pointed out are signs of a social misfit....rather its about personal choices and traits..
    lot of people dont visit or choose to visit their folks often even if they live in the same city(let alone same country)...me included!!!
    similarly...lot of people dont call up their parents daily.....
    and lastly..what you have written about death...well yes even i believe that a phone call doesnt suffice for expression of loss or sharing of the same thereof!!!!.....
    maybe your issues run deeper....and these are just the illustration of them....

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  4. it is delightful to know..so many people want me to comply..to make me believe i am no misfit...

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  5. no one wants to make you comply...its a free country dude...
    just as you are free to think that you are a misfit...we are entitled to think that you arent....you are just different..as each and everyone of us is from another....
    to each his own thoughts...amen!!!!

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  6. i'm like that. or i was like that. did nor visit home. do not call often. but i'm different now. maybe it's the age :).
    but this is certainly not a social misfit. there's been other things on your agneda maybe...or you were just plain lazy to travel.
    ps: just browsing around.

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