today she turned 70... and when i called early morning over a cup of steaming tea, her landline was busy. guess who called? my Dad's brother with whose family and another aunt (again my Dad's sister) she is going for her next holiday to the Andamans, end of the year.
she takes two holidays a year, mostly with a new-found group of friends... and this is what i have forced her to do. she had always been fond of travelling, but was married to someone who, leaving aside his Civil Service postings, did not derive any joy out of travel. so the latent desire to see places was always there inside. so this time, it is with her extended family, all from her late husband's family.
and this is what i find very intriguing. Ma was 21 when she got married in 1960. and i, the elder of her two children, came in seven years later. possibly because of that or possibly because of the fact that she always had one or the other of her brother(s)/sister(s) in law staying in with her, she has an indescribable closeness with them and this despite that Dad has passed away 11 years back. there is reciprocity, to begin with. all my uncles and aunts make the effort to keep connected with Ma, less now by dropping in, but regularly on phone. they do not miss her birthday, or to visit an ailing elder brother of their Boudi (Bengali for bhabi, or elder sister in law). they consult her on all their problems or make it point to share their joy with her, whether it is a child doing well or the arrival of a new grandchild.
on her part, Ma too calls them, is present on any occasions at their places and keeps up with their children's lives too. so when bro or i show unwillingness to participate with her in her "connection spree", she is visibly upset. and all this while she clearly knows that neither of us are really social in the way she is. we would rather be home, jabbering amongst ourselves along with our spouses. but she has her way in a uncanny way... since we still do not speak up to her, though we do show our reservations towards the gentle nudge that she keeps giving, suggesting a desired course of action.
and today when i said, "Healthy Birthday, Ma," she said, "Thank you and this is exactly what S (the uncle she was talking to) was saying just now... afterall, they are your folks, so you think alike." just her way of suggesting that it is about time i call them and talk...
this hint i will not take, Ma... i leave the connection bit to you...
16 hours ago