Considering that the human spirit is adventurous and inquisitive, imagine its plight when it is caught in recurring cycles of eat-sleep-work. Moreover, the mind cannot fathom being alone. Man craves security, happiness, belongingness, companionship and most of all–love. These needs are fulfilled by our families and friends. They form the support system we lean on when we want to share our troubles, joys and secrets.
For most of us, our families are our go-to people. Especially, in traditional Indian families where even three generations can be found living under the same roof. There are uncles, aunts, grandparents, and if that isn’t enough, there are cousins, nephews, and even a wise-cracking bachelor granduncle to give sagely advice, when you are in a trough. Children in such large families are fortunate to have themselves surrounded by these advisors and confidantes. But what about those who don’t have an entire football team for a family? Whom do they go to in times of need? Who gives them counsel?
My parents separated from our similarly large joint family much before I came to be. So I wouldn’t be able to say I relate to large communes. My parents settled in Bangalore, about 600 kilometres away from the kinship. While growing up, we spent every holiday with the family playing hide-n-seek in the big old house, got our education on music and movies from our uncles and were spoilt rotten by our grandparents. Yet, today, if I had to make an SOS call it would be to one of my best friends. Over the years, my friends have come to be my support system. I often wonder whether I am the only one who depends on friends instead of family?
Out of curiosity, I asked around. Almost everyone said things like, ‘my friend is like the sister I never had’, ‘we’re so close, he’s like a brother’, ‘she is family to me’. I even checked the hashtag #FriendsLikeFamily and voila! There were close to two hundred thousand posts on the search.
Over time, the concept of families has evolved. The joint families of the yore have broken down to nuclear families. Both parents work and the children are alone or with caretakers.