The significance of a family is not something one can tangibly put in words. Many a time, I’ve wondered if we live for a purpose, if we have any meaning in our existence, or if we’re just a crazy race that runs about without any direction or reason, and I’ve been inclined plenty of times, to believe the latter. I sometimes walk through the labyrinthine columns of memory, of a time when I was someone else, something else, in some other time, from some other era, in some other place. They have a way, these memories, of slowly growing bigger, and bigger, erupting in a burst of flames like a phoenix, and falling into ashes. And then they lie in wait inside the corner reserved for them in the puzzling enigma that is the mind, ashes, waiting to regenerate sometime later.
Those days, those times, those people, it all really happened, but all we have is a little room in our brains, closed for the most part revisited only some special times. I opened that little door, where those memories were no longer just wispy filaments of silvery grey, but colours, smells and textures. A meal together, sleeping on my grandmother’s lap, watching science in action with my grandfather, plotting a prank with an uncle, deviously stealing crisps with a cousin, shamelessly singing nonsense with another. And before I knew it, I’m here today, when all of those are just yesterdays. But isn’t that the essence of life? That in each moment, you make memories – some that you would cherish, some that you would abhor, but each that will make you who YOU are? That in each of those moments, there’s a story, an emotion, a reason, a life? That in each of those moments, there is an expiry date – that in each of those moments, you had better live it to the fullest, or before you know it, it’s gone.
My nuclear family means so much to me, and that is the same for everyone else that comprises this beautiful establishment. And that is exactly why when I hear of things that happen in Nigeria within the confines of a family, I was shocked beyond limits.
What brother spurns his sister by spreading slanderous words against her work? What sister wants to pull her sibling down? What mother would ignore her child for years together? What grandparents would put their little granddaughters through the harsh treatment of FGM? It jolted my conscience to know that a family’s “wickedness” is a real thing, in Nigeria. It jolted me to know that jealousy and hatred come first. Not even family, love or filial bonds.
Victims that suffer under the yoke of a dysfunctional and antagonistic family can be driven to depression. Few, very few, exist, who can turn these difficulties into strengths. Sibling rivalry may be normal, yes. But wickedness? Definitely not! Hatred leads to diabolical antagonism – voodoo, witchcraft, slander – you name it, you have it. People kidnap their siblings, or kill them physically or “spiritually”. A culture of silence paves the way for turning a deaf ear to such wrongs.
How can a society hope to evolve if its basic unit is killed in the crib?
By Kirthi Gita Jayakumar