Mana Kutumbam

My father comes from a huge family. He has 5 brothers and a younger sister. And in the next generation we are 20 of us. 10 girls and 10 boys. Ever since I can remember my childhood days, my aunt, who was married and used to live in Chennai used to visit us in Hyderabad for the summer holidays and stay at each of her brother’s home for a few days. This helped in getting 20 cousins of varied age groups, of different mentalities whether good or bad under one roof at different places for a month. The fun we had, the arguments and debates that ensued, the games we played and the warmth we shared are memories that will always be with me.

But what we all cherish to this day is the thought of our parents, to not let distance and their busy work life getting in the way of us 20 cousins getting to know each other. While I can’t personally speak for how each of us individually were changed by this bond, I can definitely speak for myself. I was a kid with a short temper and massive inferiority complex. And I would say that the time I spent with my brothers and sisters during those holidays slowly but surely changed me into a more confident and stable person.

You see, the best part about being with my Nanduri group is that they never made me feel like a loser even if I lost nor did they pinpoint my shortcomings. What they did was patiently be there for me and help me understand myself better by their love and compassion. We never believed that we belong to different families even though our fathers and mothers weren’t the same. Yes we all had our individual lives and we all worked hard to get where we wanted to. But at the back of our minds we always knew we had a strong support system in the form of our cousins.

The underlying factor here was we believed in the concept of a unifying family with different ideas and thoughts. We don’t judge, we don’t impose. We share and we care. The best part is, now even the next generation of kids are also a part of this huge get togethers we have now. It creates an atmosphere of wellness and trust, when a huge gathering of different people ranging from ages of 01 to 75 love each other simply because we believe in the concept of a United family.

What started as a family of two individuals with my paternal grandparents has reached 75 and more. Some of us live in India, some abroad. Some of our eldest sisters and brothers children have also joined the group and some of those children have kids of their own. It makes for an absolute spectacle when all of us gather under one roof and bring that roof down with our shenanigans. That is what Unity brings I suppose. A sense of invincibility, pride and absolute unadulterated joy. 

Sometimes it is easy to be aloof and distant from everybody and everyone. But what it creates is a bubble. One from which a person only views his ideas as sacrosanct and others unworthy. That is what ails some of the people in our nation now. They have all started living in a bubble and any ideas, like that of our honourable PM, when he says Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas aur Sabka Vishwas, are viewed from communal angle rather than an honest attempt to unite a vastly varied diaspora of people. Any attempt to support his ideas are viewed from the prism of “Liberal” Hindutva while the real meaning is often cloaked in misinterpretation and abuse.

If anything, my family reunions have taught me the value of unity in diversity. We all might belong to the same religion, caste and family but each of us are very strong minded individuals with different interpretations of what each of us believe in. It doesn’t divide us. Rather it gives us a platform to learn from each other and root out the bad in us while at the same time making us better individuals.

All of us cousins gathered once again to celebrate at the death anniversary of my dad’s eldest brother and younger sister, who both died within days of each other, from 10-06-2019 to 17-06-2019. Yes I did use the word celebrate and not mourn. Because for all of us, it was that. We celebrated their lives and memories and we recalled all those wonderful times we had. Some of us are properly meeting each other after 16 years and some of us, even though we live in the same city are busy with our day to day lives and hence hardly meet. Yet the one week that we spent together as our caravan of cousins moved from home to home, rejuvenated us and filled us with immense joy.

And that is what Shri Narendra Modi has been advocating. When he appealed to the opposition to come forth and unite to make a better India during this present Parliament session. I hope better sense prevails and the opposition unites with the Government. The reason I have talked about my family is, in a way that is what a true democracy is all about. Large families of people coming together with the idea of making a better tomorrow for our future generation and laying the foundation for them to be better than us.

Now is the time for the Parliament of our country to set an example. Show the world that our different cultures, religions, languages and ideas will not hinder our progress but would rather strengthen our democracy. Show the world that if all of us unite and work towards a common goal and a better tomorrow, there is absolutely no force, which can stop us from being the best. Let the opposition unite to question the Government on real issues. Let the focus be on ensuring that the Government performs and any shortcomings are immediately pointed out. Any healthy democracy needs a vibrant opposition. And for the people of the country to trust the opposition, it is time they stand up and deliver for the benefit of the nation rather than individual ambition and ego.

As a young kid, I saw an elder cousin of mine, wax eloquence about NASA and it’s great contribution to the world of science and he left India to the US  to achieve his ambition and fulfill his dream. It had a profound impact on me. The question in my mind at that time was, why did India not have something like that? After years and years of struggle filled with corruption, greed and individual self preservation, our country has finally woken up and said enough is enough and started holding our politicians responsible.

The question that I had as a young kid, is now in the minds of most of the younger generation now. They don’t want to go to some other country to achieve their dreams far away from their families living as aliens and trying to rebuild their lives from scratch. The younger generation wants to be here and be a part of the growth story because we finally have a Government willing to give wings to the aspirations of it’s people.

It’s now time for the opposition to Stand up and deliver. It’s time for the opposition to believe in “Mana Kutumbam” and deliver for the Indian Family by putting aside their prejudices, egos and individual ambitions. Bharat is no longer going to live in awe of other countries but wants to be looked at in awe and it is time for the opposition to ensure they don’t fail.

Jai Hind!

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