Next Sunday, I will be in the long queue at some chicken meat shop in Anna Nagar, Chennai, to buy some meat for the Easter chicken curry that is to be prepared at home. This along with Kerala appam will form the sumptuous breakfast for Easter. My wife and sister would be the ones who would get this cooked and we would sit together around the dining table and have breakfast. Am happy atleast that way...I mean...by having food together, our family is still doing something together.
Our life has become so mechanical that way. We seem to be so busy running after things that really are not going to give us in proportion to this run. We seem to know it too. But still we run. Looks like we have to. There are just very few areas where as a family we can get together into some activity during a festival these days. This year I had just set up the tree and my daughter decorated the tree herself. I was too busy with work around Christmas time and I just could not join her. Again an example of things being done in isolation in a family.
I remember the Easter feast in Kerala when I was a little child. We had been there as a family during my school holidays. My aunt had planned for Kerala chicken curry for breakfast. My father and uncle were to take the lead in chasing the hens and catching them. Me and my cousins, all of almost the same age, were all over the place chasing them. The hens ran all around the back of the house, sometimes flew a little up into the lower branches of the trees, ran through the paddy fields, but finally they were caught. It was the role of the elderly males to kill and dress the chicken and get it ready to be cooked. My father and my uncle would get into this role and we kids would all sit around and watch. Once the hen was dressed and cleaned, my aunt and mother would take over and do the cooking. It was the role of the women to cook the food with all love and care. The more their interest and focus was in the cooking, the more would be the taste that would come out. And while the cooking was in progress, we kids would hang around, helping them to keep the traditional stove alive with dry twigs and leaves, blowing and blowing to get the flame out of the embers. Once the cooking was done, we would sit together and enjoy the family feast. Today the dressed chicken cut into pieces is available for our taking. And cooking ranges of all kinds are available that makes life easier. But that way we have killed the family activity associated with it. In those days, there was a lot of interaction over such activities that bound the family together.
Today the biggest factor that is hitting all families is the time at hand for the family members to participate in such activities. Be it family prayer, a family gathering, a family dinner, or other family activities, we find it difficult to see it happen and even if it happens, it does very rarely, in a nice and relaxed manner.
May be, it is we ourselves who should draw the line, between family life and the other busy areas we are into. Tradition is always great and sweet to be retained and for that to happen, we need to have a good time set aside for our family. After all, spending long hours over powerpoint presentations and excel sheets while leaving the family aside, will only deny us of those precious moments in life.