There are some things I don’t understand. Or some people. Both are same. Aunties and uncles for example. Who invented them? And why?
Function in the house means first they are only landing.
Who is asking the aunty to come all the way from some suburb way outside the city and pester me with uncomfortable questions? Other than the usual M question, she goes on pestering about how I have forgotten her and how I am not giving respect to her. ‘Not even once you felt like coming and seeing your aunty no? Everytime I only have to come!’, she is blackmailing sentimentally. Arey who will want to go all the way to some some suburb and eat home cooked food and snooze and come back in the evening? What is this? 1980s or what? You have any idea how rare one weekend is? Comes only once a week.
While scolding me, she is also fighting with the mother. Some leftover argument from last time she starts with her and continues. At the same time she is handing over a bag full of vegetables she bought near the bus stop. (Aunty-uncle living in the suburb still swear by public transport and auto is still a luxury. Ayyo.) Loud pitched verbal diarrhoea is happening and at the same time she sits on the floor stretching her legs and starts cutting the vegetables and is helping mother cook, all the time arguing something or the other with her. Absolutely no connection between the actions and words.
And randomly she is bringing in uncle for special effects. ‘Uncle has been asking about you for so many days now. At least to see him you can come no?’ And then she is turning to the mother and asks ‘Is your son so busy that he cannot come and even see his uncle?’.
Poor uncle is standing the middle of the house with his hands on his hips and staring at the blank wall. He has spotted some ants and trying to trace their path or something. And then he asks about my work life and where I travelled last on work. When I tell where, he asks which train I took and then he takes off on a journey of his own about different trains going to the same town.
I don’t understand it but senior citizens are always having some fascination towards railways and go crazy about discussing train routes. ‘Train will stop in Jolarpettai for 20 minutes, Train arrived at Katpadi junction on time…’ something or the other about the train timing they want to keep on talking. Trainporn. I think they all secretly wanted to be train drivers or something but their father said ‘What? You will put coal into the engine for the rest of your life or what? Go do bank job, go’. Anyway.
Uncle is casually showing off his worldly knowledge he gathered from the newspaper that morning and then mother hands out coffee to him. Aunty, meanwhile, has finished cutting vegetables and is now helping mother cook in the kitchen.
Then other people arrive.
'Welcome welcome' uncle says loudly. Aunty looks out from the kitchen and joins him. 'Welcome welcome..where are the kids?', she asks the visitors. Suddenly, from being visitors themselves, they are now part of the family, doing things we should be doing.
And then some argument or the other happens with the newcomer ‘Now only you found the route to this house is it?’. And then the whole process again. Uff.
And then like a fool I am sitting and wondering why uncle and aunty are so annoying. Of course they will be annoying. There is a reason why they do not say ‘excuse me’ and ‘please’ if they want water. There is a reason why they want to add as friends on social network. There is a reason why they come to my house and talk in loud voices disturbing my sleep and interrupting my Whatsapp flirts. There is a reason why they act like real human beings with raw emotions. Because they belong. Because they are family.
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