Gratitude that calls for some effort

To my extended family

My mother’s siblings’ are homes, I’m at festive times warmly invited to. Specifically, to her younger brother and sister’s. These are also visits I’d abstain from because I’m placed on a pedestal & bugged at the same time to listen to their ideas for me.

Today it feels I should try bring in some gratitude to my uncle and aunt, credit to my conversation with the cobbler near my home. A shoe had to be stitched. He quoted Rs60. I was happy to pay him but said, ‘Only if it’s really proper.’

He agreed but as he began work, he wished for the money to be paid upfront. Normally, I wouldn’t take well to the behavior, but empathy has been ready in me and I felt the man once had a negative experience with a customer.

So I paid. He sent the ten rupee note to his collection bag, looked around as he folded the fifty across to a narrow chit, loosened his lungi’s waist, and fed it to a slit in the hip of a pant he wore under, all in a movement so practiced as to indicate a dailyness to this.

Hearing himself out as he stitched my shoe, the man spoke of a taking of his earned money by his wife to share it with her sisters, her mother, her drunk brothers, leaving his own mother out of care.

Strangers never open up to me like this, so I listened, not with sympathy but a positive curiosity in this cobbler’s life, till his talk fell when the wife returned with a cover of flowers to set up bench beside, tie and sell.

And so when Dad asked tonight if I could, after my evening out, visit Mom’s brother with him tomorrow for Pongal, I said ‘Not sure,’ feeling my reply as mean instantly. The brother does not have kids and loves to have us over. Without grandma around, mom and he are real pals too. She is happy to share the highlights of her life with him at weekends over phone.

Because I’m battling all kinds of emotional discomfort this month, the challenge to feel a little grateful to my uncle (mama) needs to be taken on . My visit tomorrow should also help me practice conversational maneuvers, an essential skill to ensure my pleasant in the gatherings I put myself out in.

And must thank him for the shirt and pant cloth set he gifted me for Diwali. I safely tried that set first, on the tailor opposite my home. Both the cloth and the fit of tailoring have turned out well.

Here goes. Thanks Balu Mama!

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