Insights and Inspiration for a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful You


Insights and Inspiration

For a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful You



by P.S. Wasu
1 comment

The tone and tenor of family humor evolve over time, weaving tighter bonds and fostering a deeper sense of belonging.

A family is a small, exclusive community. Over time, this intimate community develops its distinct sense of humor, private language, and inside jokes. It’s like creating a cute cultural code that’s only decipherable to those who are part of it. 
These inside jokes stem from living together under one roof and the family’s collective memory bank. They might playfully allude to the quirky habits of family members or some whimsical phrases coined in the process of daily interactions. The tone and tenor of family humor evolve over time, weaving tighter bonds and fostering a deeper sense of belonging.
Allow me to recount an incident from the early 1990s involving my friend Subroto (name changed), a quiet, intellectual-type Bengali, residing in Delhi’s Chittaranjan Park with his wife and mischievous 17-year-old twin daughters. These spirited twins were perpetual pranksters, capable of pushing Subroto to the brink of exasperation with their antics. It was only when their pranks became too much for him to bear that the girls transformed themselves into tender-hearted angels. By way of soothing their Baba’s jangled nerves, they would coddle him, tickle him, pinch his cheeks, run their fingers into his hair affectionately, and baby-talk with him until he responded with an all-is-well smile. So, it all ended on a good note. 
It was a different matter that the impish duo might soon come up with some other prank and again play some annoying trick on their Baba, who was their easy prey.
One Sunday, Subroto took his daughters swimming at a pool a short distance away. While the twins frolicked in the water, Subroto sat by the poolside, engrossed in a magazine, awaiting their return.
After their swim, as they headed back home in the car, the younger twin (5 minutes younger) asked, “Baba, what were you up to while we were at the pool?”
Subroto replied, “I was caught up in the latest issue of India Today. Almost finished the whole magazine.”
The elder one said mischievously, “No, Baba, we know what you were doing. We did keep an eye on you. You were eyeing other girls at the pool.”
“Oh, no. I was not even aware of my surroundings. I was fully absorbed in my reading,” said my friend defensively.
The girls were in the mood for some exaggerated high jinks at the expense of their Baba. The younger one said, “No, Baba, we know everything. You were just pretending to read the magazine, and in reality, you were ogling all around. We could see you giving a glad eye to whichever girl came into your view.” 

As can be seen, the cyclical pattern of playful teasing followed by making amends can, oddly enough, contribute to a family’s cohesion, breathing life into its shared mores that define their collective identity.

“Not at all, it is a total fiction you have concocted. I did nothing of the sort,” said my friend, feeling deeply wronged. He was annoyed at being unjustly accused but was helpless before the faux belligerent girls. 
His protests of innocence had no effect on the girls, and they kept riling him. In fact, their teasing escalated. “We are going to tell Mummy that all the time you were ogling at girls while pretending to be busy with your magazine,” said the younger one wickedly.
Now onward, my friend, all grumpy and out of sorts, just kept quiet and drove on looking straight ahead as the girls were not ready to listen to any of his explanations. On their part, the girls kept riling him without any let-up, threatening him repeatedly that they would tell Mummy about it. 
As they reached home, the little devils gave him looks of faux outrage. Their mother could make out from their expressions that the girls were eager to share something that must have happened at the pool. “What’s up, girls? Something interesting happened there?”
“Yes, Mummy, we want to tell you something important about Baba but we don’t know how to begin,” said the younger girl as she gave Baba a sideways faux threatening glance. Then she looked at the older girl and asked, “Shall I tell Mummy?”
The older girl looked at Baba and whispered gravely, “Baba, shall we tell Mummy?
The younger one intervened and said, “If you don’t want us to tell Mummy, we won’t. But then you will have to give us a special treat. Please make up your mind.”
This further distressed my friend, who felt badly cornered. He found the scene here even more annoying than the one in the car. He was being used as a plaything by his daughters. He snapped at the girls, highly vexed, “Do what you want. I am not part of your stupid game.”
Now it was Mummy’s turn, “What is the big secret? Please tell me.”
The older girl said, “No Mummy. We can’t tell you like that. It is a sensitive issue. We have to think carefully whether to tell you or not.”
Mummy: “Come on. What is the big deal? Do tell.”
The younger girl: “Okay, we will tell you, Mummy. Baba, shall I spill the beans? Why are you so quiet? Why don’t you say something? Anyway, I can’t hold it anymore. So here it is, Mummy.”
She paused for effect. “Mummy, when we were at the pool, Baba sat on the poolside with a magazine in his hands. There were lots of pretty girls at the pool. And you know what Baba did?”
Another pause. A long one. She looked at Baba meaningfully. Finally, she spoke, “Mummy, there were so many pretty girls at the pool, but Baba was so absorbed in the magazine that he did not once look at any girl! That is our Baba. So nice, so proper, and so loyal!”
With this unexpected denouement, Subroto heaved a sigh of relief and retreated to his room, waiting for his daughters to come and playfully coddle him to make amends for having teased him relentlessly. 
It was this ‘making amends’ phase that served as the climax to the entire drama every time the girls decided to have some fun at the expense of their Baba. It restored temporarily disrupted harmony and fostered a sense of closeness, warmth, and empathy that underpinned their familial bonds. 
PS: Thirty years later, the twins now have teenage children of their own, leaving one to wonder if history might repeat itself in the playful banter between the generations.

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1 comment

Anoop Kumar Gupta January 8, 2024 - 2:26 pm

Hi wasu , read your article “ Vive les familles “ . Beautiful . I loved it very much . “Playful teasing and making amend “ is a wonderful thing . This is what we do at home . Sometimes my daughter teases her mother and sometimes she makes me also the partner in it and then the kind of wrath we have to face from my wife is beyond description and if during this time my daughter and I have eye contact we cannot help smiling and seeing our smiling , my wife’s new lecture begins . So we make dull faces and at last when this making amends part is done we know how good it is . As far as private language and cultural code thing is concerned none can’t understand what kind of new words we coined which neither can be written nor can be spoken again . They come out of the feeling of excessive love for each other . Whatever combination of sounds comes out from our mouth just express our feelings . Those words are just the extension of what our body mind and heart is unable to express . So ultimately this article made us realise what keeps our families tightly knit . The diction is perfect . The author explained the inexpressible and you succeeded beautifully .