Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Relatives




Every time I go to a family gathering, my brain goes on over drive. I frantically try to jog the memories I formed in my head when I was 3 years old. I smile and pretend to know everybody. If I fail to smile at someone, they will come up to me and ask,

“Ariyo?” (Do you know me?) - Malayalam

When someone asks me this question, I act all offended that they even thought of asking me such a question after all the good times (I assume) I spent with them in the past. This is what you should do if you don’t have the slightest clue who you are talking to. If you fail to answer or deflect the previous question you will be asked the next question from which there is no escape

 “Njan aara?” (“Who am I?”)

Unlike the first question, there is no way to deflect this one. I will have to hear them describe my family tree, which has more branches and leaves and roots than any other tree in the planet. It is so big that there is a high probability you are one of the leaves in my family tree. Even if you are Chinese, or Punjabi, my relatives would have married someone from there.

The ones who bore you describing the family tree are not that bad when you meet, the ones who love drama. The other day I met this lady

Aunty: Njan aara ariyo? (Do you know who I am?)

Me: *stupid grin on my face implying I have no idea*

Aunty: You forgot me didn’t you?

Me: Sorry aunty. I know your face so well. I just can’t recall your name now.

Aunty: You used to come to me saying Binduamma binduamma as a kid.

Me: Oh now I remember your name :D Sorry binduamma. Pettanu maranu poi (Sorry Bindu Aunty. I forgot your name, when you asked me all of a sudden.)

Aunty: You remember the toy train I got you when you were a kid?

(Me: What train?)

Me: Uh hmmm.

Aunty: You don’t remember the train do you? You have forgotten me completely.

(Me: Hey lady, wait a minute. It’s not like you got me a xbox)

Me: Aunty my grandmother there just called me. I will go and come back in one min.

(And I disappear forever)

Later that day, back home.
Grand Mother: I saw you talking to Bindu.

Me: Yeah. I got out when it started turning into a nightmare.

Grand Mother: What did she say? Last time she saw you, you were three years old.

Me: WHAT! Did I have the verbal ability to run around saying Binduamma Binduamma when I was three?

Grand Mother: What are you talking about?

Me: You will never believe what happened.

So when I say that some of my relatives expect me to have the memory of an autistic savant, I am not exaggerating one bit. I thought this CIA like interrogation happens only when I go out of the house to meet my relatives.  But the other day when I logged into facebook I get this friends request from a strange looking old man along with a message, “Guess who I am? I saw you today. You are wearing a blue shirt. Aren’t you?” Scenes from the horror movie, “I know what you did last summer” flashes in my head. Is this a psycho serial killer? Am I going to die? Then I did a quick translation of “Guess who I am?” in Malayalam and I realized that when translated it becomes, “Njan aara?” Next thing I do is search for the report abuse button. A friends request has never creeped me out this much.

There have been a few developments in the past six months. I have gained 9 kilos staying at home. I have reached a personal record of my highest ever weight of 57 Kilos. Though still very far away from being overweight, I fear the worst if I stick with the current gluttonous diet pattern. My relatives however don’t seem to think so. Before this, I have NEVER crossed 50 kilos in my life. 50 was my personal best in high school. The last four years I spent in college made me look like a kid from Sudan. So I cannot stress enough of how much “not thin” I am now. But when a relative of mine sees me, they have only one thing to say:

“YOU HAVE BECOME SO THIN!!”

What shocks me is that, they always say it with such shock. Their own children are starved because their mothers fear cholesterol and obesity. The other day I was at my cousins place:

Cousin: Amma, it is evening. Make me some tea.

Aunt: Do you really need to drink tea now? No need. Drink some water.

Yet in the name of love, they try to stuff everything that there is, into MY mouth. What can you do with these people, especially when you love them? I just sit and make false mental promises of going to the gym as I gobble down the fourth round of payasam that they made "just of me".   

Previous Post - Tonight We Sleep In Hell


51 Comments for this post:

  1. Hahahahaha there is no escape during such situations. It happens with me during weddings. Very well scribbled.

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  2. I hate weddings for these encounters.. but the only reason for me to go to someone else's house is that they'll try to stuff me with all the wonderful 'mishtis' bengali sweets and other finger lickin' stuffs! i don't mind that.. However, me, having forever lived in the hostel, practically am oblivious about the newer members of the family.. and they just keep getting married! Am i supposed to keep up with the ever-growing members of the family? Sorry, no thanks..

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    1. LOL you should sit one day with your parents and dedicate a few hours to talking about the family tree :)

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  3. One point agenda in any wedding, family gathering or social event - scout the location of the dining area and hang there as if your life depends on it. I call it the relative jammer(similar to a mobile signal jammer)

    Every known branch of your family tree comes there but the charm of the area is such that they would be more interested in what the contents of the buffet are than reminding you of your scandalous infanthood.

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    1. lol sadly the places I go to have these people serving the food. So I have to answer the interrogation with the food in my mouth :P

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  4. The same thing happens with me every time I go to my relatives' place. Gotta try your idea :)
    Interesting post :)

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    1. Tell me how it went for you ;) thanks :)

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  5. Hilarious, was that! Doesn't happen to me anymore now and that obviously means I have grown old! Those who would pamper me are now pampering angels in heaven. Very creative and well written piece, for sure.

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    1. Lol you have become one of the relatives we dread ;)

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  6. ha ha ha ...it happens to me very often ! a very well written post ..

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  7. Very well written...Do you remember me? is the most widely prevalent question asked in Indian weddings and functions ha ha

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    1. lol for a moment I thought you were asking me the question "Do you remember me?" :P

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  8. I loved the little cartoon at the bottom going ot grandmothers house .. THAT IS ME

    I get asked this question who am i , each time i go to india now ..

    ok can i ask something .. Do you rememebr me :) he he he he

    Bikram's

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  9. Precise observations! Good read. Thanks!

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  10. It happens to me every-time . Nice post, made me laugh, especially the last pic :)

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  11. LOL.. It used to happen to me, now I see my dotty going thru this phase...aah!enjoyed reading this. And the figure coming back from granny's house was just too good:)

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  12. Enjoyed your post-but tell me don't you feel happy that all these relatives want to chat with you-the generation gap withstanding ?

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    1. The generation gap is a thin line at least in my family these days :)

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  13. can relate totally the Tams are notorious for having large extended families as well. and I don't remember most of them as well.

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    1. lol i guess it is a problem with every indian family :D

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  14. Njaan aara ariyo? ;)
    Just kidding Narcissist. Before you report abuse/spam me, I'm just a 'vazhipokkan' leaving a comment to say this is a cool post. It hits home in so many places. :)

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    1. hehe :D glad you could connect with in Divya :)

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  15. Very humorous post! I think I can top your tales however. I had this friend, whom I last met when he was five and I was eight, calling me up on phone the other day and feeling injured when I could not guess who he was from his voice over the phone:)

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    1. Lol how old were u when this happened? :D

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  16. I learnt to say 'no' when I was just eight years old; while answering someone's "do you know me ? " as soon as I replied "yes" to that old man, his next question was " who am I? " After listening to him for half an hour about our family tree, I decided that it is better to say "No" :))
    Let others get hurt than my poor ears & brain!

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  17. I shared this article to my G+ friends! thank you!

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  18. Hilarious post! And yes, we all have relatives with such quirks :)

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  19. I can completely relate to this since I too come from Kerala where missing someone from the wedding invite is a sin. I had a first hand experience during my sister's wedding when almost everyone came and grabbed my hand and said, "Look who has grown up into a big man!!!" Add to that my general inability to remember names and faces and the fact that I always skips all the family functions of our extended tharavadu!!!

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    1. haha I am the only son to my parents so thank god I will never have that problem :D

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  20. Ha, Talking about meeting relatives at weddings, it is my Sister who used to have this trouble of remembering people. I kind of remember people very well. During My sister's wedding, I had to stand with her and tell her who was supposedly next on stage to wish her, ,so that when they get on stage to wish her, she wouldn't be left wondering 'Who the hell are you!?.

    And I completely agree with the cartoon about Visiting Grandma. They can never believe that we are full :-)

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    1. lol I think a lot of people want someone like you to assist them. ;)

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  21. Replies
    1. lol I dont think cute quite describes it

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  22. I get the "njaan aara..ariyo?" dialog all the time.. makes me feel like they're suffering from alzheimers.. and all I feel like doing is asking them if they have their wallet..maybe that will contain their personal details :P

    It's preposterous when they ask you to remember details from a loooooooongg time ago. I remember the last wedding I went to and an Auntie came to me asking if I was so & so's kid and when I nodded, she asked me if I knew her. I tried to politely say no and then when I ask Mom she tells me she was at my baptism. Never met after that :|

    Hmmm... and kazhikaan vaari vaari thannu allarum tell me I've put on and then they say nalla vannam aayi...so you're still on the luckier side.. REALLY! :D

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    1. I feel your pain :D Dont worry, one day we will have children and grand children of our own and if you believe in rebirth like I do, then believe that these people who ask us these questions will be born again in our family for us to balance out the karma. ;)

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  23. Njaan aara ariyo??
    well....that comment is every every country cousin's bane. I guess it is a common occurrence to draw a blank to most who field that question. Lovely post, plenty of empathy.

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  24. Awesome. You're a gifted cartoonist.

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