For the many thoughts that come and go unannounced and the ones which refuse to budge out of my head…

My dad and I have had a number of conversations about my paternal grandmother.My paternal grandmother is an extremely headstrong person and as far as I can recall she has never been the grandparent who gives love unconditionally.

Being an only child I have always craved love from wherever I can get it and I also have a lot of love to give. But I never have felt any love from her side, and moreover never have I felt an urge to reciprocate love.

Dad always tells me that I need to talk to her more often to understand her better. But I wish it were that simple. Every time I have tried to talk, it always is followed by a gesture or call to shut myself up. Then I tell dad that she never really has done anything for me, how can I develop love-lost overnight?

There was this one time when I was 11 years old, when I went walking to the market (2 kilometres away) to get her a surprise gift for her birthday. It was a Ganesh poster made on handmade paper but not framed yet (all an 11 year old could afford). When I gave it to her, she told me the colour was drab and that it didn’t go with the setting of her house and that I should return it to the shop. There were many such incidents like this. I did keep trying to find a common chord to at least talk about, but in vain.

I keep quoting these incidents to dad in my defence, but the argument he has left with him is that, she is an elder and a part of our family and hence whatever said and done I have to respect her.

But let me make one thing clear to everyone who thinks that way. No one is obligated to love every single person they call relatives. One is born into a family completely by chance, with absolutely no fault or choice of theirs. And they have the discretion enough to chose whom to like and whom not to like. In my case, I have an enormous amount of respect for my parents and my aunt who have done everything possible to bring me up and give me every happiness I have wished for, and they have done so much for me that I can never fall out of love for them. But why do I need to respect someone like my grandmother who has never given me love wholeheartedly? Well for the least someone who hasn’t ever reciprocated the love I have tried to give.

I’ve always gone by a simple principle about giving respect. It goes something like this, “My respect is something very personal and special to me. Initially, I will give it to everyone alike, no matter who they are, where they belong to or what age they are. But to retain this respect in me I would need it to be reciprocated alike.” As simple as that.

I’m not saying love conditionally or be selfish about whom to love. But at least when you respect someone it should be mutual and it can be to everyone alike if they deserve it and not just family.

Maybe someday dad will understand. He does understand to some extent, but he also faces the eternal male dilemma, and I completely understand his plight too.

But the point I’m trying to make here is that just because X or Y belongs to my family I don’t have to respect or like them just by the mere virtue of being my relatives. For that matter, till the time I don’t share that special bond with someone I cannot call them ‘family’ in its truest sense. And sometimes there are a certain people who are not even remotely connected to you genetically in any way, but that special bond of so called ‘family’ just comes naturally.

At the end of the day it is you who matters and you who’s respect and love is in question and no social norms or set rules of obligations can chalk that out for you. It is completely up to you whom to like and whom not to. Let ‘society’ frown upon it, it is society’s job to do so in most things. But you know you have a reason for your discomfort with the person and no societal norms can judge you for it.


Comments on: "To Respect or Not to Respect" (18)

  1. ” My paternal grandmother is an extremely headstrong person…”

    Well, that’s the nice way of putting it. I can think of a lot more not-so-nice ways, and something tells me you can too. 🙂

    • Absolutely true, ~g 😛
      I know you go through similar pain.. 😉
      I couldn’t have put it in a better way. But I had to consider the fact that this is public after all.. 😛

      Anyway… apart from all the ‘unpleasant’ stuff..
      Happy Birthday ~G! (that somehow feels like I’m giving you the ‘old-person’ respect :P)
      Loads of Love and a BIG bear hug… 😀
      from meeeeeee….. 😀

  2. i think filial love is the most overrated thing on this planet. it is very sad that even today so much emphasis is given to things like “blood ties” – im a very anti social family member – i make no efforts to bond with nyone i dont see the need to. i appreciate a good turn , and will do one in return – ALWAYS.

    my mom often tries to tell me, that family is your armour against the world – true , your immediate family is – the rest – well lets say , that we all have better things to do.

    sometimes , i really hope for the big fat greek wedding kind of a family – a community of people you are related to – your post proves my point.

    great post arushi – you are an economics student right ?? its a pity , you write with great clarity , and it would have been interesting to see what you could do with literature.

    keep writing 🙂

    • thanks so much, Devika.. 🙂

      I’m so glad someone shares my views.. I hate the argument about the fact that they’re your family, so you HAVE to love them.. ABSOLUTELY against it..

      the big fat greek wedding kind of family is something we need. but if we do get it, it would turn out to be a soap opera.. 😛

      I just hope I can change at least an iota of the social perception and stop people from giving the lame-duck excuse..

      Anyway, Thanks once again.. 🙂
      Hugs.. 🙂

      PS: I’m doing Journalism, not Economics. 😉
      And thank you so much for the complement.. 🙂

  3. Hi Arushi,

    A very good post again – something which makes people think. Come to think of it, there are so many family relationships where we are ‘obliged’ to love or respect, irrespective of the affection or the lack of it. Especially when it comes to relationships like grandparents.

    Respect is a very key word – It works only when there is a two way communication, otherwise it will fade and recede.


    • Thank you so much Poornima di..

      I’ve seen it happen so much in family.
      And after a point it gets to you.. and then it drives you to write a post like this.. 😛

      But on a more serious note, our freedom of expression should be extended to our choice of whom to love in our family. I completely detest our so-called ‘social obligations’ towards our family..

      I just hope people start realising that it’s not a sin to not like someone in your family..

      thanks once again..
      hugs.. 🙂

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  5. i love the way you put across that respect bit

    “My respect is something very personal and special to me. Initially, I will give it to everyone alike, no matter who they are, where they belong to or what age they are. But to retain this respect in me I would need it to be reciprocated alike.”

    beautifully stated and stay to what you feel and think,if someone deserves respect than ask them to earn it first.also one thing is for sure and i go by this rule

    “dont be rude to others,cause if you are then you become them”.just ignore and don’t bother to react 🙂 and i know sometimes you cannot stop from reacting as it is the least you have to do and when you do react,feel better and move on” 🙂

    • thank you so much… 🙂

      And you’re absolutely right about the not being rude bit. It’s like stooping down to their level and then they beat you with their experience. 😛
      I have tried my level best (levels close to almost attainment of nirvana) to be patient, but sometimes it just gets WAY out of hand (and ears).

      Thanks a lot once again Deethi.. 🙂
      hugs.. 🙂

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  7. AK remember my post- My Blood? Well you should remember that our relations are built on mutual love and trust. If the feelings are only one sided then i believe that it isn’t really worth it!

    • Absolutely!
      I couldn’t agree more.. Plus I consider you much more than family.. and hence I love and respect you a LOT.. 🙂
      Whereas for some people in my family.. They’ve lost both these a long time ago.. and it’s mutual..

      Love and hugs AN. 🙂

  8. I read your story about your grandma..may be you felt ignorned by her does’nt mean she does’nt love you.Her love may grow in future if only you dont react to what all she says(after all she is ur parents’mom) ..just ignore and do your best..someday she might understant and return the love you need.

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    • It’s been twenty years.. How much more time does she need to develop love?
      Over time I’ve learned to ignore and live with it. It’s a lost cause. But yeah I still hope it’ll improve somehow. But I don’t things I should keep my hopes up any more, they’ll just be shattered like always.
      Thanks anyway.. 🙂

  9. Chin up girl, and focus on people more important to you.. You should be glad she’s only your grandmother and not your MIL- then u’d be in true misery:) hahaha!
    Love u..

    • Love you too, MK. 🙂
      And I can completely understand your misery… 😛
      And I’m VERY glad she’s not my MIL, at the same time, I’m also getting good tolerance training for future reference. 😛
      Love and Hugs.. 🙂

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