A few weeks ago I met a friend over coffee, while we discussed a lot, one of the things he is struggling with is his relationship with his family. A line struck me... "Your family gives you a sense of security. It’s the place you are safest - I don’t feel that". He is trying to help himself and finding his way through a myriad of emotions/feelings /anger/resentment and he will find his peace eventually…hopefully sooner than later.
But the conversation stayed with me a few days.
I’ve survived what I did because of my family. My mom was/is the pillar of strength and resilience. She has been the place where I’ve felt the safest. Knowing that she is just there makes this easier. My family buried their emotions and stood strong for me. They made me feel worthy inspite of the lack of limbs and a bleak future.
Would I have been different if weren’t for them? What happens when your own flesh and blood does not give you the freedom to be you no matter how flawed or perfect?
The same weekend, I was part of Helping Hand's music benefit. I had two young looking gentlemen who came to pick me up.
Anyone who knows me know that I enjoy conversations with random strangers, and this evening seemed perfect to indulge my curiosity.
So my driver's name was Balu and the other boy Jason was his friend's son. As with any conversation in Bangalore, we started off with Bangalore traffic and if we were going to make it on time. As we sped along a relatively easy Sunday evening traffic, Balu mentioned him growing up at Helping hand's orphanage in Hyderabad.
And the nosy me needed to know more...
Balu's father left him at the orphanage when he was very young; he was told he had lost his mother. I asked him if the orphanage was a nice place, and he smiled (a big smile) and said he had the best time. “We were looked after well, I made some great friends and we really enjoyed our hostel life”
He worked at Coco Cola company in Hyderabad for a while, but moved to Bangalore as Jason’s father lived here.
He met his wife in the orphanage too, and they’ve been married for 10 years and have two children. Both the friends live close by and he said “We are each other’s family”.
He then spoke of how most of his friends found partners within the orphanage and how much they stayed in touch. He spoke with a lot of warmth about them. Infact they even took their vacations together.
Then he dropped a bombshell “I only got to know a few years ago that my mother is still alive and I do have an older brother”.
His parents separated when they were very young. They gave up the older brother for adoption since they were poor, and then he was given away to an orphanage. The parents could’nt afford to look after them.
He went back to his village and traced his mother. His mother recognized him, "I probably do look like my father, she recognized me” he smiled. “She doesn’t want to move out of the village. We do talk every other day, but she does'nt live in great conditions, and it hurts me"
What about the brother?
“He lives in Bangalore and is well off. He was adopted by a good family. He does'nt want to stay in touch with me. He's angry that he was given up”
After a while he said "I dont trouble him, because I make him unhappy" and then gleefully added "But my anni(brother's wife) is in touch with me".
Through the whole conversation, there wasn’t anger or a sense of being given the raw deal. He seemed happy with the family and relationships that were’nt driven by dna, but rather by choice.
At no point did he ever say why me or spoke about how twisted destiny was.
The most important lesson that Balu taught me was that no relationship can give you security or peace, unless you have made peace with yourself and where you are..
Maybe our definition of family need not always be by blood, and maybe relations not of blood give you unconditional love and security too.
Maybe some relationship do not make us feel the way they are supposed to and maybe that is okay...
Maybe our expectation of certain relationships are flawed…or maybe these flawed relationship which don’t meet the expected outcomes are required too….because these struggles help us see ourselves better…see our own faults and maybe hopefully we only emerge a better version of us.
Like they say, sometimes the darkness helps us appreciate the light better.