Family _ the friends we didn’t choose

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Family functions for me are a rare treat. Yes, there are the odd cousin or 2 who happen to find themselves (not so) suitable partners with whom they decide,without force, to spend the rest of their lives with in matrimony (my sincere condolences to them). Then there are the elderly aunties and uncles who (one for every year) decide to die. Probably because they figured they would receive more attention dead than they do alive. Let’s face it, after a certain age we’re all just better off dead. Either that or turn into a whiny old bag of dust. I choose the former.

1. So whilst these family functions are a ‘once in a while’occasion  they also prove as a reminder of why we prefer them on a ‘not so often’ basis.Family are the relatives we had no choice in. Unlike with our friends, we didn’t have much of a decision in the making of our family members. We just woke up screaming one morning to the realization and then went back to sleep (it was still 4:00 in the morning anyways).

2. Then there’s always the side you prefer more. In my case it’s my maternal side. There is my cousin Suhayfa (special enough to mention by name) and perhaps a few others from my dad’s side that I hold dear to my heart but the rest of them are like Chelsea. You don’t really care for their existence. But when they’re the opposing team I somehow manage to recall their players by name (for insult purposes).

3. Like a distant relative who passes on and somehow remembers you in her/his will leaving you a lump sum of money (enough to cover the cost of the latest GTi –not), family have their uses.

4. Family always look for the good in you. Some Aunty: ‘Oh my. She’s gone so thin. She used to be so fat when she was younger.’ Me: ‘I’ve been the same weight for the last 10  years. If anything I’ve actually PICKED up weight.’ Gets ignored by said aunty.  (repeats sentence again in a louder tone of voice).

5. Family NEVER forget your birthday. Like ever!! Yes, you may have to leave reminders on their phones, place it on your status and sing a song about it a week in advance but they will NEVER forget. Without you even having to tell them. Just look at that.

6. Family will never bad-mouth you in front of others. They care about your feelings and are determined to make sure that your ego never gets a beating. ‘My daughter, 25 and still not interested in marriage. These modern girls. Don’t know what’s good (or bad) for them.’ ‘What you talking! My neice, see that one over there with the red red (‘cos red just isn’t RED enough) lipstick and the fitting jeans, Ja. 27 and STILL not married. Giving her mother such hell. And for what, she can’t even make aloo gorse.’ ‘tch!.’ Such sensitivity – it touches my heart.

7. Whilst the rest of the world are more concerned with your outside appearance (perfect figure, porcelain complexion) family are more concerned about harnessing your inner beauty. They know that once married your husband will not be concerned about your complexion or your figure but about the size of the chicken in your pot. It doesn’t matter how you dress – your upkeep is NOT essential. What is more relevant is the state of your home. If your husband returns from work to a house whose marble tops are sparkling mightier than the Kohinoor he will sleep in content that night. Knowing, that though hiss wife looks like Kristen Stewart pregnant with a blood drinking vampire, the preservation of his home is in good hands.

8. When things don’t work out for you family will always lend a consoling shoulder. They won’t think twice about sending you pots of ‘comfort’ foods and endearing text messages saying ‘ I told you so.’ Sweet neh.

9. Family will support any decision you make despite the consequences. They will sit down and discuss the pro’s and con’s of any major step you plan on undertaking  without passing  judgement. They will never finger point or tell you that you ‘think you too big for your boots.’ They are mature and considerate in their arguments. ‘Marry him if you want. But don’t you dare come back crying to me if he leaves you.’ ‘Just you do that young lady and  I don’t want to see your face in this house again. you hear me?’ No, not really. I’m actually deaf (selectively)to words of endearment.

10. Whilst we may dismiss family as an obligatory and yet, mundane part of our lives, we have to credit them accordingly. Every family is a breed of their own and while we may not always leave every function/funeral on a good note you gotta hand it to them there antics make for some hilarious after-party tales.

with that said, here’s to my family: for their quirkiness, wonderfully weird accents and absurd ideologies. If it weren’t for them I would never know the type of person I NEVER want to BE. May you continue to help us realize our place in this world.

Much love

Fatima Haffejee