It is all about the art of living.
|Journey To Hell
I thought my journey to hell started a couple of decades ago. When married into a large family, I was certain that familial responsibilities would rob me of my time and freedom, throwing me on a track to hell.
When my father-in-law expired suddenly due to a paralysis stroke, as the eldest son, my husband had to shoulder the responsibility of supporting the family. He was the sole provider for a family consisting of his mother and five sisters. Fortunately, he was a qualified engineer, and had a well-paid public sector job that took care of the bills and tuition fee for his three college-going sisters.
I was married a year after the death of my husband’s father. It was an arranged marriage. My parents felt that a large family shouldn’t matter if the groom was intelligent, efficient and financially sound. Besides, their generation believed that a joint family was advantageous because there were always people to fall back upon in times of need. Contrarily, I was apprehensive, and felt vulnerable like one marooned on an unknown island.
I was happy to discover that unlike my presuppositions about them, my sisters-in-law and their mother were of pleasant disposition and of helpful nature. This, in no way meant that everything was idyllic; far from it. There were frequent clashes of ego between us, and arguments raged over small to serious matters. However, we all had the sense not to let the situation get out of control. There was no cold aftermath or hostile silences between us. After a while, say, about a few hours after the skirmishes, we were ourselves again, chatting of their college and classes, just like siblings.
Once a year my husband used to get travel allowance, which made it possible for all of us to go on a trip to a hill resort or visit relatives in distant places. We had a lot of fun, and had the chance to cement the differences if any.
When my children arrived eventually, their aunts and grandmother gave them their love and attention. This was the time when I found my extended family absolutely helpful. I felt morally strong and physically never alone when my kids had a fever or when my second son fractured his arm while playing football at school.
Cooking, housekeeping, and other domestic chores were shared by all of us. These jobs were as much a part of our life scheme, as recreation and pursuing career of our choice. It was sharing of the work that prevented complaining.
As of now, all my sisters-in-law are married and have families of their own. Whenever we get together, we do reminisce about those old times and rediscover the sweet pleasure of having lived harmoniously under one roof. This should prove the fact that living in a joint family is a blessing and not a curse provided there is human feeling between the members.
Thus, my presumed journey to hell thankfully turned into a pleasant trip to near-paradise.
Second Place winner