The past week has been a great run for my blog. The number of visitors to my blog was more than I had expected. More than I ever saw in the blog’s viewer statistics tab. Thank you to all of you.
I believe I have picked this trait from my father, celebrating simple joys in life with your loved ones. Let’s speak of traits then!
The first time the doctor handed our baby girl to us, the scrutiny of her features and resemblances began. My in-laws said she resembled her phupho, owing to those big and beautiful eyes. My mother said her lips were like mine and ears like my younger sister. We all finally settled on the common ground that she was a mix of both the families. I believe tangible features are easy to distinguish in one’s appearance because they are right out there. I am talking about the attributes that we inherit in our personalities.
As a young kid, I was close to my amma, my grandmother. Every morning, she would religiously take her trunk out from the store room and stack her clothes neatly. I never noticed her throwing away old and unused items from that trunk. Not even old trunk linings made out of newspaper. One of these days we were heading out for a birthday party and my husband asked for a bag to carry the gift. As an involuntary instinct I lifted the bed mattress and gave one. He was surprised to see paper bags kept under the mattress. For me it was a habit I had seen and learnt from amma. Piling polybags neatly under flat surfaces.
Organizing and tidying up our personal spaces has been a therapy in our family. Sundays are about emptying our cupboards and re-doing them. My sister had taken it to another level, in which she throws out all the clothes every morning and puts them back properly once she returns form work. My dad never threw out old wedding cards as much as they irked my mother. Every forthright he would grab a diary and jot down the contact numbers from the same cards and later use it with pride.
Having said that, not all inherited traits are therapeutic. My mother has this OCD of converting eatables from a bigger dishes to smaller ones. Imagine bulk cooking for guests, putting the prepared dishes in big containers then into smaller bowls for serving, then smaller ones for the leftovers for the fridges and then another set for the last ones that need to be washed by the maids. Phew! Inherited maybe. I should have asked my nani.
When I landed in Delhi for my first job, I settled in a PG. One fine morning my roommates and I called up a carpenter for some work. As he completed I offered him tea and biscuits. My roommates later laughed about the biscuits. They put their five and more years of staying in PGs and advised me to do away with just a glass of water or simple tea. I hail from a small city and I have grown up seeing my parents offering the same to anyone and everyone. We have had the same electrician, same carpenter vising our house and were like family. Fast moving lives of metro cities don’t allow us the space to do that as freely.
As we grow our personalities shape up owing to multiple factors. The good ones we are proud of independently, but the negative ones we easily to attribute it our lineage. One regular morning, my house help who comes in by 8 am every morning, was late. By 8.15, I was pacing across the house ranting to my husband how she is unprofessional and why I should give her a call in the next 15mins.The doorbell rang at 8.30 and I sheepishly looked at my husband and said, “ Mummy bhi ese hi gussa krti hai” (mom did the same) .
It isn’t just me. I was once riding with a friend for a movie for which we were running late. He abused the government for setting up damaged lights and causing more agony than comfort. Her sister who was on the backseat commented, don’t be like dad and stop accusing the government for trivial things. We find it so relieving to blame our emotional outburst or irrational behavior on our genes.
Ever since I started driving every time I have spotted a number plate with UP-15 (the vehicle codes for Meerut) I have made sure to look in, just in case it is somebody I know of. I recently came across a car in the society parking which read MP-04 with a Atharv and Ahana stickers on its back mirror, I instantly turned around to my husband and questioned if he knew anybody who had a kid named Atharv in Bhopal.
At a New Year’s party, I overheard somebody shout Zaidi. Accustomed to being addressed by my sur-name by friends back home, I looked around to check. It wasn’t for me. There was another Zaidi in town it seemed. I went up to that guy and politely introduced myself and asked, “So where are you from?” He got a little uncomfortable, doused his cigarette and replied, “From Lucknow and I generally don’t smoke, this occasion demands it”. I smiled at him and went back to my friends. It is in unknown circles like these a mention of anything familial feels home to me.
When my daughter meticulously wipes off the sauce from the plate leaving the fried veggies lying untouched, I ring my mother and tell her she has taken this habit from her mamu. My brother who loves and eats ketchup with anything and everything gleams with pride on this comparison.
I read an article last week and was introduced to a musical track “Traces of you” by Anoushka Shankar which was released after the death of her father and she wrote, “People who have gone are still here, in us. Places we came from are carried to the places we go.”