We celebrate my parents’ wedding anniversary in a somewhat similar fashion, but here there is a slight, and sometimes more than slight, intrusion by outsiders—mostly my parents’ friends—that makes it a little less of a family affair than our birthdays. Nonetheless, I must rate this observance as one of the family occasions I like.
Every once in a while someone in the family gets it into his or her head to organise a family reunion. Then, sometime in this uncle’s house and sometime in that aunt’s house, a grand get-together takes place, where almost every member of our extended family in the city makes it a point to make an appearance.
It is true that I have used the word ‘grand’ to describe the event, but the word refers only to its size, and not the quantum of satisfaction I derive from it. Here under one large roof collect all the relatives and cousins I have been trying my best to avoid for the past several weeks, and though there are those I like and do get along with, the presence of a sizeable collection of those that get on my nerves somehow cramps my style.
The tradition of the occasion is that we should not restrict ourselves to just three or four people, but go around like the sun, shining our rays on everyone. But when I come to the pipsqueak who swaggers around in flashy clothes and boasts he will become the Subhash Chandra Bose of this era, I feel like shoving my fist into his mouth; and when I meet my ugliest and most scented relative who gives herself insufferable airs and takes it as a compliment if someone tries to pull her leg and says she is a carbon copy of Madhuri Dixit, I feel like breaking into a hundred-metre dash in her opposite direction—but no, I have to stand by her side and smile non-commit tally! And to think that I have never ever wanted to join the diplomatic corps!
The death anniversary of a family member is another occasion when I am not very comfortable. Here too, relatives get together, pay lip-service to the departed one, and subtly graduate to having a whale of a time! The inappropriateness of it all stuns me, and this year I told my parents I would rather stay at home and study. They agreed.