Thursday, April 19, 2007

The perfect family

Mr. D, the fifty something patriarch and chief bread earner of the family, was a dark, heavily bearded man of medium build. His life, like numerous others born in the early years of India’s independence, had started off in tough, poverty-ridden circumstances and had remained so for the greater part of his first two decades of existence. He had graduated from a small town university in northern India, a feat not often paralleled in those times, and had moved to western India in quest of greener pastures. He had started work with one of the several thousand private industries that had sprung up in India in the early seventies, a move not too well received by the elderly and self proclaimed wisdom capital of the family who were unflinching proponents of the ‘government job’, and had continued in the same job ever since.
The job had been an immensely rewarding one, Mr. D often asserted; that he had not worked anywhere else and therefore had had scarce opportunity for any concrete comparison did not occur to him in the least. In any event, he had risen through the ranks with dogged persistence, along the way improving his family’s finances sufficiently to allow for all but the most exotic luxuries.
The success had not gone to his head. Having hoisted himself thus far in the socioeconomic ladder and consequently finding himself in a position of security, he had taken it upon himself to aid the less fortunate members of his family. His acts of generosity had seen steady incline in frequency and weight, his magnanimity showered upon those who asked, did not and on occasions did not want it.
The hard battle fought with life and its sundries had strengthened his determination to not let his two sons go through the same again. His sons had been educated in institutions he deemed best, had received the best tuition that was on offer, had enjoyed all the luxuries Mr. D could afford. They had never had to put a moment’s thought to their own destinies; so complete was Mr. D’s dedication to their cause and so unshakable their faith in him. Indeed, any course of action but the one ordained by Mr. D had come to be perceived as unthinkable.

Mrs. D was the quintessential housewife. She loved her husband. She adored her sons. She detested but respected her in laws.
She took on the duties of the household with unmatchable vigor and religiousness. She had never once complained during all the hard times that she and Mr. D had had to face when even the most basic of expenses had to be carefully dispensed with. She had borne those times with dignity and compassion, without which Mr. D’s resolve may yet have been broken – a fact she never omitted to mention to almost everyone she met and talked with for any reasonable length of time.
Her faith in her husband’s ability and wisdom were unbreakable. And to be honest, she hardly had the intellectual capacity to comprehend, let alone challenge, either of them. Mr. D loved her for all he and she were worth.
Her relation with her in-laws was not of the highest order, something she frequently cribbed but, in the true spirit of social propriety, never complained about. She was devoted to God.
She knew she ought to be happy and therefore, she was.

Mr. D’s eldest son (We will call him D Jr. 1, or better still, DJ1) was a fair, lanky and inexplicably arrogant lad of twenty something. The most distinguishable feature on his countenance was his tousled hair, the color of which, he frequently changed to suit his changing attitudes, preferences and girlfriends. He had finished college at twenty-three and had soon been employed in an IT company. Times, though, had changed and sticking to a job for a period greater than a year was considered inappropriate and foolhardy. Likewise, he had jumped jobs till his resume had started to resemble a business directory. All his job switches had of course, met with the prior approval of Mr. D. His tastes and expenses, however, continued to far exceed his income; Mr. D dutifully compensated for the balance.
The family was currently casting around for a suitable lady for DJ1, for the boy had reached the appropriate marriageable age.

The younger son, DJ2 was widely regarded as the lesser of the two, intellectually. He, however, possessed none of his sibling’s superciliousness and was equally widely regarded as the more likeable. His academic career had been bleak; Mr. D had had to intervene frequently with monetary and other required aid to further it. DJ2 had somehow plodded his way to a highly questionable graduation from a highly questionable university. To be fair to him, the boy had never really had a bent for academia; his pleasures were derived from his frequent dabbling in outdoor sports, of which he possessed not inconsiderable talent. But sports was not the career Mr. D had had in mind for his sons and DJ2, for his part, was not even aware that such careers were in existence. His dad always chose what was best for him, he knew.
He worked for a software firm, the name of which was not known to those that frequented the office next door. A friend of Mr. D’s ran the firm and had agreed to hire DJ2. He was doing well in his job; Mr. D’s friend had proclaimed that DJ2 had a bright future in the company.

And then, there were Mr. & Mrs. D Sr. Both had long outlived their useful lifetimes and were confined chiefly to adding indirectly to the nation’s prosperity through their meager consumption of edible resources, which, apparently, had a positive effect on the nation’s GDP.
Their movements, even within the houses, had become increasingly restricted, partly due to their deteriorating physical capabilities and partly due to the obvious but never voiced revulsion of their daughter –in-law and grandchildren that met them.
On festive occasions, every member of the family diligently partook the responsibility of touching their feet in exchange for their blessings, which purportedly continued to grow stronger as the strength of the voices that delivered them grew feebler. But then, the show of respect was never undertaken in the hope of getting something in return; any such notion was outrageously blasphemous.
Theirs, was the perfect family.