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The Family Reporter

This was the point at which one of the cousins proposed the idea of bringing out a Family Reporter!
Last Updated : 15 February 2024, 20:53 IST
Last Updated : 15 February 2024, 20:53 IST

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We were 35 first cousins from my father’s side. My grandmother had 10 children with the genders evenly distributed, and I remember her as a strapping, robust person with an even temper. At the time of this tale, all her sons and daughters were married, had numerous children, and were dotted around the map of India. Summers would see us grandchildren gather in Bengaluru at the ancestral home. We had no cares or concerns about school or work. It was all play.

As the years went by and the family was growing, the close contact was weakening, and many events went unheralded. This was the point at which one of the cousins proposed the idea of bringing out a Family Reporter! We promptly appointed him editor, and he then assigned a reporter from each branch of the family. Each of us was to send news about our family unit. The first issue, which had a family tree, was a delight to read in spite of the uneven lines of print. You see, it was all typed and then cyclostyled by the lone editor. The ‘hard-pressed’ editor also had to post the papers to each branch. The cost was borne by some uncle or aunt! 

The issues came out with surprising regularity, and the baton was passed from cousin to cousin, with each of us bringing in some new aspect when we took it on.

One idea was to ask each uncle and aunt to narrate some anecdote from their childhood. What fascinating revelations came out of this exercise! One memorable one was the story of my father, who was given in adoption to close relatives to make up for their lack of a male heir. It was a lonely, childless place, and he longed to be with his siblings. One day, in desperation, he asked for money to buy a notebook and ran to the nearest railway station to make the short journey to his original home. Sadly, after having a joyous reunion with his brothers and sisters, he was brought back by his high-principled father. In another issue, an aunt told the story of being stuck in a dry music class while she could hear loud laughter in the next room where she wished she could be. Another sibling narrated some hilarious hostel experiences.

As we grew older, we read moving accounts of the passing of both grandparents, descriptions of gala weddings, and announcements of joyous births and departures for ‘further studies.’ I can’t remember when the Family Reporter came to an end. All I know is that the great-grandchildren are now intrigued by our meticulous noting of all events, big and small. They even marvel at
the fading print and have creative ideas on how to preserve the issues for archival records.

“Can you scan it and send it, please?” is one recurring request. But I would rather they come by and look at
the original and reflect on the dedication that went into keeping family
contacts alive!

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Published 15 February 2024, 20:53 IST

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