I’ve Been Blessed with a Family, Many of Whom Are My Friends

My cousin Christy is getting married this weekend. I am here in the midst of a 500 person wedding (modest by Indian standards) in a sea of people filled with conversation and laughter and music and dancing and eating and drinking, some of them family, some of them friends, some merely strangers. Throughout the weekend, I’ve been moving from one family member to another soaking in as much time as I can with each, keeping each and every moment a memory to be cherished and revisited at another time.

I’ve been blessed with family, many of whom are my friends.

It only seems like yesterday that Christy was born. Her parents are less than fifteen years older than I am. And I am a little more than fifteen years older than she is. I literally sit at the middle of their lives. And I remember holding her in my arms as she ate and (mostly) slept when my family visited after she was born. I remember when she was a little older, throwing her up in the air and catching her, as she giggled her way through the moment. I remember when she was in middle school and she asked my brother for help with her math homework to which he responded that she’d never ever have to use math in her life. (She picked the wrong brother for help on that particular day.) I remember when she was studying accounting in college in New York and we’d have nice, long conversations. I remember when she graduated and worked for JP Morgan, now an adult. I remember whenever I visited, that she’d be there as often as she could. And I remember when she visited me in the Bay Area last year, rocking out to Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” after an amazing hike on Mount Tam.

I am the second oldest on my dad’s side of the family and I am the oldest on my mom’s side. And I’ve been given the gift of excellent longterm memory. (My short-term is something I don’t remember very much.) And I’ve been blessed with the gift of being able to attend the weddings of every single one of my family members (of this generation) in the States. I’ve been given the gift of watching them grow, from babies to adulthood.

I remember a great many things not only about my cousin Christy, but also of my brothers and my sister and so many of my cousins from when they were little to the adults they are now, some of whom have kids themselves, the next generation less in want than the prior because of our parents’ love and sacrifice. I remember when they were all born, beautiful babies, when they were cute little kids, when they were awkward middle-schoolers, when they were defiant teenagers, when they were fun college kids, when they were responsible new adults, when they met their significant others, when they became parents. I remember when they were happy, when they were sad, when they were confused, when they were angry. I remember they’ve been there for me when I needed them; and I remember I’ve tried to be there for them when they’ve needed me. I cannot help but smile and fill my heart with such happiness to see them happy. And realize that’s what I really want in life – to see the people I love happy.

I’ve been blessed with family, many of whom are my friends.

While my brothers and sister and cousins do occupy much of my thoughts at these gatherings, it’s really my parents and my uncles and aunties that I think of even more. One of my favourite moments of the weekend was driving with my mom to pick up the babysitter for my niece and nephew. A close friend of mine texted me yesterday after I landed back in San Francisco whether I’d seen the Aziz Ansari Netflix original series “Master of None”, more specifically the second episode entitled “Parents”. Both of us are first generation immigrants, and the show captures the “immigrant narrative” while being really funny. Anyways, that episode really got to me, both poignant and hilarious. I thought of that episode and Jhumpa Luhari’s book “The Namesake” which also narrates the life of an Indian immigrant creating a new life in the States, starting a family.

I thought back to my thoughts during Christy’s wedding and I specifically honed in on the generation before mine. While I know some of their journeys (cos I’ve asked and they’ve been kind enough to share), and I remember some of it from my early childhood, I will never truly know what it was like to be in a foreign land not knowing anyone, not knowing anything, literally figuring out everything on the fly without any help of any kind. The struggles they had in getting to this country, let alone the struggles they had once they got here. The sacrifices they made in raising all of us, trying to keep our Indian traditions intact while trying to assimilate to the American culture. Without even realizing it, cos they were too busy living life and raising children, this new strange land became their home. Our home. Much of our happiness is a direct result of everything they risked. It’s truly magical what our parents accomplished, heroes in every single way, far from perfect, but perfectly heroic. All of these thoughts dominated my mind during the entire reception. I looked at my folks, and my uncles and aunties, and this overpowering feeling of love came over me. Love for them.

My only outward expression of all the thoughts racing through my mind was towards the end of the night, when I spied my dad alone. I walked over and just rested my hand on his shoulder, though I didn’t tell him of these things that I thought of. He may have been deep in his own thoughts at that moment. He wanted a picture with him and my sister; and so I took it. It’s one of my favourite pictures of the night.

I’ve had many epic and magical moments. Days and nights. Weeks and weekends. Months and years. After every single one of those epic and magical moments, I get very sad. I used to be afraid of that sadness, cos the loss of those moments was not something I could handle back then. I now instead embrace that sadness, cos it only serves to remind me how truly magnificent those moments are, and the relationships I have with the ones I shared those moments with.

I’ve been blessed with family, many of whom are my friends.

Drakes Beach
Drakes Beach

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