An unusual Family Tale.

I have known KS and his younger brother DS since my school days.

KS is a year older than I am. He worked in many jobs after schooling and brought up two sons to the best of his ability. The elder son Surya, did extremely well in his studies got scholarships and graduated from one of India’s top IITs with a B.Tech degree and like many of his contemporaries emigrated to the USA where he has flourished. The younger son Chander was able to graduate in humanities and got into the Civil Service with a Chennai posting where he has provided a home and care for his father since the death of his mother ten years ago.

DS on the other hand, failed to get through his matriculations examinations despite three attempts and became a seaman in the Merchant Marine and disappeared from India after a big showdown with his father who had scolded him for not studying enough. His parents and KS gave up all hopes of ever seeing him again some fifty years ago.

I received a phone call from KS yesterday to relate to me the following story.

DS landed up in Chennai some days ago and after much searching using all possible resources was able to locate KS and called on him two days ago. It was a grand reunion with much emotional scenes and reminiscences which went on for a few hours. It turned out that DS had settled down in Europe after getting married to a European and is now a citizen there. He has apparently established himself well with his in-laws and now manages their family business.

Chander hurried home from his office after a phone call from his father about the visit of DS and met his uncle for the first time. It was soon time enough for DS to depart and before he did, he told KS “You are very lucky. I wish that my son was like yours.”

Chander overheard this and became very emotional and at the door as DS was leaving hugged DS and was in tears. DS consoled him and asked him why he was crying. On Chander telling him that he was crying because he was overwhelmed by the praise he received from DS about wanting his son to be like him, DS without thinking said, “I was talking about Surya who has done so well in the USA” and left.

Naturally, Chander was inconsolable with the snub. It took many hours of comforting from KS and Chander’s wife before he could be pacified.

KS wanted to share his own angst and called me to vent on.

I too was and continue to be amazed at the thoughtless comment made by DS. Had I been in his shoes, even if I had originally meant the comment about Surya, I would have used the opportunity to praise Chander for looking after his father in the latter’s old age etc. I suppose that such thoughtfulness does not come easily to people who have been away from the family for decades.

What would have been your response had you been in DS’s shoes?

16 thoughts on “An unusual Family Tale.”

  1. My response would have been pretty identical to what you would have done. Why would you hurt the poor chap by being so cruelly honest ? I am sure KS would have thought that it’s good that he met DS after 50 years 🙂

  2. Gosh you triggered something that happened to me Ramana. My dad and I were invited to a dinner party by friends of mine. A lovely evening until……several of those present said to my father how proud he must be of me and my accomplishments. He responded “Ah but you should meet my other daughter.”

    Those hurts never go away. I would never say something so hurtful to that son knowing he had a brother. People are so uncaring and insensitive. Especially family.


  3. What a stunning and heart breaking family tale; I think you and I would have acted in the same way. That son being so touched by the high praise and then being told it was meant for his brother and not for him. How heartless.

  4. Oh how sad. I would like to think I would have reacted as you. Families can hurt so much without thinking.

  5. Its unfortunate but I see unfeeling and unthinking remarks happening all the time. Most people are so self-absorbed that they totally miss what the recipient of the remark is undergoing. Or some think its fashionable to be catty. They are inspired by the soaps on television, which are aimed at making people laugh or revel in cattiness. Not for sustaining meaningful long-lasting relationships.
    So its best of all of us learn to brace and strengthen ourselves to protect our inner self from being hurt. If the cap fits, wear it. If not, let let these statements fall off like water droplets do on a lotus leaf. There’s nobody worth wasting one’s tears on!

    1. I suppose that at my age, I have a convenient memory which has blocked similar incidents in my own life and now being a “respected” elder, people have little need to be nasty to me. I however agree that unthinking comments are all the time being said all around us though not much in my life since the onset of the pandemic.

  6. I know I have unintentionally said things and hurt family members but I really hope that in this situation I would have gone on to encourage Chander.
    The child who cares for an aging parent is the one who has the most humanity, the status of a successful life in the US is of no use to a person who needs assistance.

    1. I got a call from DS too later and when I blasted him for his conduct, he was contrite but, justified by saying that he was in a hurry to leave as the cab was waiting outside and he had a plane to catch! I suggested that he call both KS and Chander to make amends and hope that he will do so.

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