Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Padmum and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get ten different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Delirious.

No, I do not intend to trace my ancestry to an ape. I shall leave that to the experts.

What a topic! Delirious with all her experience in China can write a tome on it, but I have to let my Muse really go into overdrive for this.

If, as it is believed in the East, our Ancestors are watching over us, mine would be spinning like tops after reading the first paragraph. Poor things, they must be wondering where they went wrong producing my kind of a descendant.

From all accounts that I have been able to source from various aunts, uncles and my parents over the many years, my ancestors, bar one, were all very colourful men. Sadly, there are not any stories about the women ancestors as, presumably, they played insignificant roles in the lives of those grand men of those days. My generation of siblings and cousins however will leave a lot of stories for our descendants about some stalwart women.

I would like to talk about one man who was not colourful in the traditional way that the others were. My father’s paternal grand father was a very religious person and was highly respected for his spiritual attainments. My father remembers him as being a majestic figure of over six feet height and a regal bearing. What my father remembers most about him was the way he would go for his morning bath in the river Kaveri and perform the morning prayers on the river bank before returning home. On his way back, all residents in the street would await his passing by and bow to him in respect and recognition of his status as a spiritual person. At home, he would spend most of him time in prayer, meditation and study of our Vedas and other religious texts. My father and his brothers maintained that the current relatively prosperous state of our family is due to the austerities that he undertook for the benefit of all beings.

While he was so absorbed, his brothers were more secular in their pursuits of happiness. Some of them were noted for their philandering, and some for short tempers and feudal ways. When I look at my family as it did when all my father’s siblings were alive and as it exists now, I can see some traits of the latter in many and some traits from the former in a few.

Some genes travel in one direction and some in other directions, I suppose.

If you were to ask me what genes I inherited, I should admit that I appear to have inherited both! Now, whether that is possible or not is for the Natural Selection Experts to decide, and I do not intend sweating over that question. It suffices that my ancestors were colourful one way or the other, as I used to be told that I was too, in my prime. I certainly qualify as a holy person, with many cigarette cinder burnt holes in many of my clothes, particularly singlets, my most favoured upper apparel at home.

Confused Relationship

My post “Do Indians Celebrate Father’s Day” elicited some comments and emails, from which I gathered that that I appear, to at least some people, as though I was some kind of a male Mother Teresa. I am writing this post to put a proper perceptive on that relationship.

It is, to be very pithy, confused.

It has now been more than six months since my father moved in with us. This was a prospect, that neither he nor I, had ever imagined possible. Man proposes and God disposes, and my father’s plans to predecease his second wife, came a cropper and I had to call him to come and live with us. His living with us has brought with us a number of changes to the way our household ran. His presence is affecting my own possible second career, due to his paranoiac fear of something happening to me, every time I step out of the house. To see that he is comfortable and be more or less his secretary and Personal Assistant is quite taxing at times. He has been a great manipulator of people and old habits die hard. To handle his manipulation in a way that he realizes that it will not work and I am on to him is like what a matador in the bull ring experiences.

For various reasons, the relationship between my father and his children has not been very loving for nearly five decades. By and large, he lived his life the way he wanted and pretty much left us all alone, and we wanted it that way. This was due to circumstances about which I would prefer to write some time in the future, but suffice it to say, we were from a dysfunctional home. He lived his life, and we did ours.

The relationship between our mother and the four of us however was on much stronger ground. She finally left an unsatisfactory relationship, when the last of her duties was performed as per our societal norms. . After that and as long as was alive, she spent all of her time in succession with one of us and had nothing to do with him. After that, to say that she was literally spoilt by the four of us and our spouses would be an understatement. Perhaps we were over compensating for what she had to endure during the time she had to live with our father.

Let me take this post forward by quoting from something that I have been reading recently to try and make sense of my life.

“The ever shifting, but almost perennially uneven balance of affection and obligation between parent and child, is one of life’s deepest and most bitter sweet experiences. And it illustrates how imprecise the genes can be in turning on and off our emotional spigots. Though there seems to be no good Darwinian reason to spend time and energy on and old, dying father, few of us would, or could, turn our backs. The stubborn core of familial love persists, beyond its evolutionary usefulness. Most of us, presumably, are glad for this crudeness of genetic control – although, of course, there is no way of knowing what our opinion would be if the controls were more precise.”

Robert Wright – “The Moral Animal – Why we are the way we are. The new science of evolutionary psychology.”

So, what is it that I am now undergoing? An experience of affection or is it an experience of doing my duty as an obligation? Whatever it is, I can vouch for the writer’s observation that it is one of life’s deepest and most bitter sweet experiences. The frequency with which I suffer from ‘whymeitis’, since the passing away of Urmeela, is not something that I ever thought that I would undergo. The mystery of and the turning on and off of the emotional spigot, and the controls not being precise enough is quite frustrating.

The answer perhaps is from this paragraph from the same book:

“In theory, and in fact, the dearness of parents to children also changes over time. In the pitiless eyes of natural selection, the utility of our parents to us declines, after a certain point, even faster than ours to them, as we pass through adolescence, they are less and less critical databanks, providers, and protectors. And as they pass through middle age, they are less and less likely to further promulgate our genes. By the time they are old and infirm, we have little if any genetic use for them. Even as we attend to their needs, (or pay someone else to); we may feel traces of impatience and resentment. Our parents, in the end, are as dependent on us as we once were on them, yet we don’t look after their needs with quite the same gusto they brought to ours.”

If an erudite and knowledgeable person can write like this, perhaps I can take solace from the fact that I am not alone in experiencing this peculiar emotional roller coaster ride. Perhaps there is something to the theory of ‘Natural Selection’ after all!

It also would be nice, if I could get Ranjan to do a guest post on his take on this subject! I shall try.