I grew up with only my immediate family around me; I didn’t know cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents or have the traditions of family gatherings that many people grow up with. My friends became my family and the same goes for my parents, we lived a couple continents away from their home and relatives.
Since coming back to SA, I have made a conscious decision to stay away from family and relatives. I consider my real family to be my parents, 2 brothers and perhaps 2 or 3 cousins that I am in contact with through email and sms. I do not make any effort to visit relatives or attend family functions.
Yes, that may make me an antisocial bitch but I think I just might be one.
I grew up in America and the friends my parents brought into our house were from every country, religion, race, age, etc you can imagine. I was taught that I was no better than anyone else and though we are all different, at the end of the day we all have the same needs and the differences we have only make our lives more interesting.
I am not saying that Indian people in SA were not taught that way, but from my experience in this country since 2003 I have found that I don’t share the same mindset as my relatives. I don’t have any horror stories about this country to relish in and tell again and again. I don’t believe that I am better than Black South Africans, and just not up on the same level as White South Africans, I don’t put too much emphasis on buying brand names and having labels on everything I own, I don’t really care about the latest Mercedes and who is driving it. I don’t generalize and stereotype the different racial groups in South Africa. I am not saying all my relatives are like this, that too would be a generalization on my part.
I have just found I have nothing in common with my relatives. Being someone’s relative does not mean anything anymore. It does not mean you have a connection or a bond with that person, it does not mean that person would do anything for you; it does not mean that person will love you unconditionally and does not judge you. So then, that family member is just another individual in this world. I have friends who would do anything for me, who genuinely want the best for me and take joy in my happiness. These are the people I call my family.
I feel no sense of obligation to relatives, maybe if I grew up here with them that might be there. But I completely believe in having my own freedom to choose what I want to do. When my parents went to Durban for Christmas one year, I did not go with them. Yes, it was the first Christmas I spent without them but I would rather be true to myself and spend the day with friends, than to be fake. My parents knew it was my choice and did not once try and persuade me to go. Perhaps my parents still have that bond, after all these relatives are who they grew up with and Durban is their home, I am just grateful they realize I don’t and will never have that connection.