Sunday, May 20, 2007

Yesterday when I was young

My uncle was visiting from Pakistan over the weekend. There was a conference in Dubai he has to attend tomorrow and he flew in a little earlier to spend some days with us. It was a good weekend. My uncle's a well-travelled, very articulate person and it's a pleasure to sit down and listen in on the conversations he and my parents have. It's an old habit with us children, sitting on the periphery of adult conversation and quietly imbibing the details. Of course, my cousins and I are no longer children - some actually have children of their own - but whenever we're home, we defer the pleasures of talking to the adults and recede into our childhood roles, living vicariously through the experiences of our parents. It sounds a little regressive as I write about it now but some of the most important, most durable things I know I've learnt from the nuances of these conversations, through the wisdom distilled around kitchen tables and living room clutter. When you're with family, everything is simple and easy.

Before my uncle left, he called me to him and discreetly pressed some money into my hand. I tried to protest but he wouldn't listen. Buy something for yourself, he said and turned around, dismissing all resistance. It was a typical gesture with him, familiar to all of us from our childhood. Of course back then we were greedy and would look forward to his generosity, making plans in anticipation of the event for what we do with the money once we received it. Now, though, it came as a complete surprise. I'm an adult myself and the idea of spending money, of purchase as adventure, doesn't quite carry the thrill it used to when I was younger. And yet, I found that his small gesture had brightened my day. For the rest of the evening I walked around with a glow in my pocket. It wasn't the money - I have enough to meet both my needs and my indulgences. It was, I think, the pleasure of receiving a gift. As we grow older the occurrence of gifts, the kind given with genuine affection not bound up in habit or artifice, tends to diminish considerably. Most of us, when we want something, just go out and buy it. The slow agony of waiting, the long hours spent in pleasurable anticipation, the rush of delight upon actually finding ourselves in possession of the beloved object - all these things are absent from our lives. And so, when a gift, a surprise given with love and untainted by avarice, is suddenly presented to us, it tends to unravel all those childhood emotions we thought we'd lost. For a few brief moments, the years fall away and we are children again. And that is the real gift, that luxury of being loved.

May it happen for you.


Blogger Lazybones said...

You can also make it happen by leaving some money (amount as required) in some unusual pocket of ur wallet, in a book you are unlikely to open very soon or in some cluttered drawer. Make yourself forget all about it and find it at some later date. Not the same thing though, but not all of us have such generous uncles too!

And I must say, you have a very interesting site here.I hope you dont mind if I bookmark this site.

Last but not the least, there is no last thing so read the first thing again. :)

7:40 PM  
Blogger anuja said...

Having loads of uncles and first cousins and being an Indian, I can totally understand your feelings! It is so much fun, being at the receiving end of the money, just for the sake of it... It doesnt have to be lot of it, but it still makes your day!:)

9:29 AM  
Blogger Abez said...

My dad does that with Eidhi- it's such a sweet simple gesture, and it doesn't matter how much it is, it's the fact that dad gave us Eidhi. :)

btw, I think Khalid called you from my dad's phone abt two weeks ago! haha!

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Bushra said...

This is record-breaking - the highest number of biiiiig words in one post!

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Bushra said...

anyway point is you expressed a simple thought beautifully and very eloquently. i want presents now. :)

4:41 AM  
Blogger karrvakarela said...

Lazybones, Bushra: Thanks.

Anuja, Abez: Yes, it does make your day.

4:50 AM  
Blogger mystic-soul said...

Ahhh !!

I don't even remember, when I had a gift. What a nostalgia !!

3:06 PM  

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