Life in Photographs III

It’s always been difficult to write about one’s family. More so, when one writes about a person one’s always seen from a distance: of age, and of the literal kind also. Remember the uncle of mine who took his younger brother for the entrance test: my father’s elder brother, my majhle chahcha? He is nearly two years older than my father so he got the respect from him that an elder brother deserves. They grew up together and were of the same age group. That made them the best of friends too.

Growing up in the old house of ours, I used to hear stories of their camaraderie. It was the unassigned job of the elder one to calm down the more impetuous younger brother, for theirs were the violent days and their stories told me that they used to live in the wild wild west. They went to the same school and to the same University where there used to be a gap of one year between them. Thir student years gave birth to many stories of their shared past that they used to regale us with in huge family reunions. My uncle was unique among his brothers. He used to do desi exercise and drink the family cow Gauri‘s milk straight from the udder. As a result (or cause?) he was the most solidly built among his brothers.

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In the old family album at my place, I found an old photograph, taken around the year 1975. There is a happy nuclear family in that photograph: a family that was a part of our extended family whose kernel was (and still is) at house number five by sixty-one (it’s known by that name in our family circle). It’s my uncle looking at my brother (technically cousin, but I never called him that) Mayank carried by his mother, my majhlee chachi. They were an exemplary couple and it was known and acknowledged in our family. I remember the various times I had enjoyed their return to five by sixty-one.

My uncle was (and is) a very soft spoken gentleman. Although we children used to stay away from the elders instinctively, I do not remember my uncle’s ever raising his voice or punishing a child. Only once did he raise his voice, asking who it was that jumped at the terrace while their grandmother was taking rest downstairs, with memorable effects. The culprit (because he was caught and we had fled from the scene) was my younger brother of around three years age. My uncle could not speak a word after looking at his state, he could only laugh.

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