Atithi Devo Bhava?

I asked you for a miracle and you send me more relatives, just how wicked are you?

These were my first thoughts on sighting my aunt sitting on the sofa. I was inside my room when the bell rang and a volley of voices fell on my ears. I heard my name. I was being beckoned outside to the living room. Ok, Allright, it’s some annoying relative who has come to give more wedding invitations — just how many people get married in May?

I’m supposed to play the good host here if I love myself. Mom’s really touchy about this subject like most Indians who believe in the “Atithi Devo Bhava” paradigm. If I ever lay my hands on the person who first proposed this monstrosity he would have some serious questions to answer. Equating relatives and god, really, what was this guy thinking? They are more like the devil, reincarnated.

Anyway, I go outside, put on a plastic smile and say, “Oh! What a surprise aunty. When did you come?” Wasn’t it enough that we were harbouring your husband?, I mutter under my breath. Her husband, my uncle, had arrived the day before from US and he was showing no signs of leaving. And now the wife was here. Were they planning to build a cocoon here? Hadn’t I already heard stupid little brag tales of the 50-plus-plus US return that now I have to bear village gossip and cooking recipes? And worse smile through the pain while my head suppresses all the retorts for the fear of being lynched by my mom.

As you might have gathered by now, I hate relatives. I see no point in having any. And no having no people for one’s marriage or deathbed is no reason to tolerate the leeches. I mean, just figure this. They come into your home, make you slog like servants, make the most outrageous assumptions, poke and prod when it’s none of their concern and expect you to like it. Its as if they are actually doing you a favour by living in your home and messing up your life.

Yes, life gets messed up. You can’t sleep till late. You can’t sit on your favourite side of the couch because someone is already there (I have never sympathised  with Sheldon Cooper more). You can’t sleep on the couch while watching IPL let alone watch IPL because they want to watch stupid serials. You can’t watch your sitcoms because they might be outrageous to them. You can’t eat what you want, when you want, where you want. You have to sit on the dining table and be all civil. You have to take them shopping while they embarass you in front of shopkeepers you visit frequently. You have to answer stupid questions all the time. You have to make appointments for them. You have to fake listening to sad stories and make ‘hmm’ sounds all day long.  So, much stress can’t be good for anyone.

And I’m not done here. They have an unsual knack for assuming what is yours is theirs. For example: My aunt is talking on the phone with someone. “No, we have not booked any tickets. We’ll take Bashir’s car na.” Hello. At least do us the courtesy of asking before stealing our car from right under our noses. Did it ever occur to them, we could need it while they joyride their way back home. No. That’s relatives for you — demystified as certified devils, not gods. 

I might have spewed quite a venomous diatribe here but c’mon its been four days now. I am this close to flipping out. I know not everybody hates their relatives. I have friends who teach their nephews, who love having relatives over and who swear to having happy times. I don’t get these people. 

Back to my family, I am on a driver hunt. A driver who will take them far far away. Countless phone calls later, we have a driver. They will be leaving at 7. From 6.30 onwards we are all sitting on the couch waiting for the driver to arrive. He’s come. He’s putting a plea forward of going tomorrow instead, early morning would be much easier to drive. But dude that would mean another dinner together. Unfortunately, that’s how it turns out to be.  

Mom wakes me up early next morning to bid ‘s them goodbye. The driver’s come. Their luggage is in the lift. I have my house back. I snuggle up in bed. The bell rings. My sister is standing there with the aunt. She and Mom had gone to escort them to the car. Why has the aunt come back? Oh! they need music cds for the journey. Of course, how thoughtless of us. 

They are finally gone. Mom is sitting with me. She is tired. The days have been hard on her. Wait a minute is she making fun of them too? She’s telling me their shopping tales and we are laughing like crazy. Tears are falling down my cheek, I am laughing so hard. So, its not just me, the irony of the three words strikes the believers too. 

Ps: They broke the car.


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