Yesterday, when Purnendu came back from town, he told me about some acquaintance who had got into a fight with this brother. They had been fighting the last months and now the brother moves out into another house with his family. Of course people in town were regretfully talking about this and said that it is just not nice when families break apart like this. This made us think that it seems as though the Indian tradition of a joint family who lives happily together is slowly fading.
I have written a lot about the advantages of living together with your parents and siblings. It is still normal here that there are several brothers living in one house together with their wives, children and parents. It is the usual situation of a family. When we look around however, there are really also a lot of families getting separate.
In some families, it happens naturally. One of the brothers gets a job in another town and so he moves away. He still comes and visits and the family is interested in his life. They have love for each other and they go to each other’s birthday celebrations and more. They are a bit less close because of the physical distance but still love each other.
How often however we see that brothers have a big fight and in the consequence decide to live apart from each other. Many times those problems begin after the marriage of one of the brothers. With the marriage, there is a new woman in the house. I am speaking just out of my experience, having seen that brothers live peacefully together with each other and sometime after the marriage of one of them, he and his wife move out.
When it comes to a fight among brothers, it often really goes to extremes. They fight loudly on the street, calling each other names and sometimes even hitting each other! After such confrontations, they don’t look at each other anymore even if they meet each other accidently on the road. They become the worst enemies and behave worse with their own family members than they would with anybody else.
What are the reasons for this kind of fight? Mainly property and money. For me this shows that individualism started in people’s minds. They don’t see each other anymore as a family. They think ‘Our father earned this much, so this part is yours, that part is mine’. They cannot cook in one kitchen anymore. They want to have their own kitchen. They want to earn their money and use it for themselves instead of contributing to the family income and then seeing what the needs of the group are.
It is very unfortunate that this happens here. It is not our culture. Families are breaking apart. In the most ancient scriptures, which play a big role in forming our culture, it is said ‘The whole world is a family’ but although we have this culture, people now become enemies even with their blood-relations! There are still many harmonious and happy joint families but it seems that peoples’ ambitions, ego and the wish to own is becoming bigger and bigger, separating people from each other.
It is sad to see this happen!