In five hours, I’ll be on a flight to Bombay, back to where it all began. To my bedroom that I used to share with my gran who still lives there and who will turn 100 this weekend. I am going alone because the thought of taking the kids down exhausts me and they have met and know my grandma so they don’t need to make the gesture. Hopefully she will be there in December when I plan to take them, but when you’re 100 nothing is sure.
I am going alone but I will be surrounded by family and the thought makes me panic a little. It’s been a long time since we were all in one place and now I have joined the ranks of the neurotic. While in the past the squabbles used to amuse me, now I have lost my nerve.
In the end, though, they are my family, the people who a call for help will rouse to action any time. For no other reason than because I am theirs and they knew me from the moment I started to exist. To my uncles and aunts, I will always be a child, the one who in their minds and sometimes out loud they call with my unwieldy childhood petname. To my cousins, no matter how far we roam, we are the ones who shared a bucket bath. I must remember this through the high drama.
When you’re in your 30s, you find other family, the people who are not related to you by blood but who heed your call in other ways. The old friends who remember you as you used to be when your potential was starting to show, who will remind you that you’re still the person you were in your twenties, and who will always take your side in public and almost always in private. The newer friends who have caught up on who you are and who know the minutae of your life and who pull you through the worst bits.
Your closest blood relations may not witness your life in the way that these friends do. They serve another function, they are the foundation. Both matter, and this time I will have to juggle.
I just watched Girls (Season 3, Episode 9) and it touched a chord. Hannah goes to visit her grandma as I am flying to mine. Her mother and her aunts squabble, she revists old wounds with her cousin. It gave me an inkling and it made me smile. It was the episode I needed to watch.
Hannah’s grandmother tells her about marriage: Some day you will look at him hating him with every fibre of your being, wishing he would die the most violent death possible. It will pass.
That made me smile too.