Considering how my mood was off this morning, I forgot to mention how high my spirits were while I was out. Could it have been the fresh air? I was almost euphoric, and I’d only been down for a stroll into the city!
Sent a few texts back home; as usual, they will reply at an unlikely hour and then ask me to reply immediately! Anyway, I hope everyone is fine back there in Mauritius. I actually do worry about them sometimes, especially about the children. I’ve looked after all of them for such a long time; I have always been there for them. Oh, I know: I cannot look after everone for ever. Nor should I be doing so. Then, why did I spend so much of my life looking after other people’s children? Because, deep inside, I never considered any of them as cousins but as brothers and sisters. Now that I’m older, and they too have grown up, you can see how awkwardly they behave towards me. I would be the last to say that they owe me something but I can sense that in some of them: there is this awareness of what I have done for them in the past (and would still do). This is perhaps why one of my younger cousins persists in treating me perpetually as this ironic joker who’s always out for a laugh (which I am, actually!) She cannot face that other image of me caring after her, her siblings and other cousins, even though I’m not that much older than she is…
How do I know all this? How do I know when day is day and night is night? I probably know them more than they do. Or perhaps not. All of us have grown, now. Some of us are already engaged. Some are getting married; others have already got married. There was once when one would only need to call out and everyone of us would come running. Things change; people change. This is natural. That doesn’t stop me from feeling sad at having lost (perhaps not for ever, I always keep hope!) this wonderful bond.
Adults have a way of overlooking the feelings of their children. The adults in my family, whenever they got involved in a dispute (and we are notorious for our inner fights!), always parted like Moses’ Red Sea, so that everyone had to choose his or her camp. As I have bitterly realised over the years, there can be no middle ground; no sitting on the fence. For much of my life, I have not only sat on that fence, but I have actually been that fence. I sincerely believe I have contributed to maintain the peace within my large family. It’s a strange thing that: being the eldest son of an eldest son. Somehow, you feel you are not doing enough…somehow, you feel you ought to be more responsible; somehow, when you are still young and you see the adults whom you love and respect acting like stupid children, you feel you have to compensate.
Even when I was very young, I used to sense the utter stupidity of such feuds; so easily aroused and so difficultly stifled. Actually, all of us children in that family must have felt that way: I’m not talking about myself here. Parents have no idea of the destructive capacity of their words. They don’t seem to notice that what they tell a child will remain in his or her mind and mould his outlook or perspective on things. Talk about negative socialisation! I consider it a gift to have been born in an extended family. I know what it feels like to live in a strictly nuclear family, but growing up in an extended family allowed me to gain an early knowledge of human relations and interaction. Very early on, I got to understand that what your parents teach you or tell you need not necessarily be gospel truth, but that different versions of reality exist. Growing up in such a family also taught me some element of tact and diplomacy; well…enough to allow me to wade through the complex ties and links that bound the people in my family. You had to learn where alliances lay, whose word was always respected, who among the adults never got listened to, who always sought to fight with the others…
The fact that I was among the eldest children to be born in the family on my father’s side meant that many of my father’s siblings were actually quite young when I was born. I considered them as older siblings and took to calling them as such. Why not? At that time, we were all living under the same roof, in what I secretly call the Motherhouse. One of the consequences of this was that I was often outspoken and loud. I voiced out my ideas (however childish) with great seriousness, never doubting that I wouldn’t be heard; believing that I would be treated exactly like my aunts/uncles. However, like I said above, the adults in my family never consider a child to have genuine and independent thoughts of their own that merit their attention. After all, the tradition states that elders are to be respected above all considerations. My ability to speak out frankly was often frowned upon. Other adults sometimes commented (not necessarily about me, but also about my cousins) that this was the result of too much pampering and that children should not be heard but seen. This has always infuriated me. ME: a pampered child?!? Of course, that was a long time ago, but I still remember how strongly I felt about this. Now that I am an adult (hehe), I still think the same way. More on adulthood, childhood and adolescence later on.
Ok… Look at the time!
Only a note to remind myself: This Room is not your Universe! Get Out and Live!
I actually do go out a lot, but this is a preemptive move, in case my room overwhelms me and keeps me imprisoned inside…
Ah…Feeling so much better already.
Hey…the guy whose room is just above mine is not yet asleep too. I hope I’m not keeping him awake with all the noise I make on the ground floor. Wacky as I am, I once thought of talking aloud to him from my room and see if he would respond (it would have been like hearing an ethereal voice from nowhere saying, ‘Whut?’). I actually did too, once, while my Vietnamese friend was in. He didn’t reply. But occasionally, he sings. Weird songs. Makes sense, doesn’t it?