A few weeks ago, I wrote down a list of questions I hoped to ask my mom and get answers to as well for them. Fast forward to today, I managed to satisfy my curiosity regarding some of those, relied on memories (mine as well as loved ones’) for a few others, and a couple remain unanswered, and will continue to be so for mom is no more. But hope still shines bright in that corner of my mind which thinks that maybe someone else who knew her will be able to give me those answers. So I really wish that I had actively asked her even earlier than I did: “Amma, tell me a family story…”
On the other hand, I am thankful I do have enough memories of mom and dad telling me about their childhood. Now I need to write them down and share them with my own children before my memory fails me. For there is so much truth in this quote from one of my favorite authors:
Preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell. – Louisa May Alcott
So here is hoping I will ask others in my family to tell me these stories; and hoping I will have these rich family stories to pass on to my own children whether or not they say, ……
Amma, Tell Me a Family Story…
When moms (and dads and grandparents and uncles/aunts/etcs) tell stories, it leads to a rich treasure chest. A collection of cherished moments that helps bridge generations, and of life lessons passed down through the ages. Through these, we discover the enduring power of our shared histories in shaping who we are today.
“Unlike stories from books, family stories are always free and completely portable. You don’t even need to have the lights on to share with your child a story about your day, about their day, about your childhood or their grandma’s.” – Elaine Reese
Stories of Their Lives… A Glimpse First at Amma
My amma (mom) and I spent many a evening sitting together on cane chairs in our balcony. While we watched the crows fly back home to their nests (and often counted them as they flew by, separately and then checked our totals, often we found they tallied!), we could talk about various things. And some of them would be memories from her childhood that I now realize have become part of a rich tapestry of family stories for me.
I recall her talking about her school and mentioning that the Bollywood film star Hema Malini used to go there as well, and was a senior by a few years. That does make sense now for mom had turned 71 this year, while the star celebrated her 75th just this past week or so.
She told stories of blacking out curtains and knowing where the nearest air-raid shelter was during the India China wars in the 1960s (looking at history, I see there were a couple short ones in 1962 and in 1967). And of actually using them once too!
And Then There Were More
stories about family events, vacations, and interesting family members as well. I will share a couple later here but for the time being, need to recall them for myself!
Of course, dad told his share of stories as well. Among those, there were a few he loved relating many times over!!! And while we might have said, “appa, not again!!” when he started, we joined in. We also embellished them with relish when there was a new audience to these stories!
My grandparents were all great storytellers too, especially my grandmoms. I can recall quite a few of their stories (both real and imagined) even today. And I hope I can capture some of the magic in their storytelling as I relate those tales to my children. In addition, I want them to ask me relate those stories once more with the statement, “Amma, tell me a family story, the one where you…..”
(Another day, another post for more of these stories…)
Much like how these stories have linked me to my family’s past and the locales within, I want my children to feel strong connections to the legacies they receive.
“The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.” – Bruce Feiler
A Story of My Life
Now, here is a story of my life (or a built-up and hearsay memory of one).
For example, this photo I posted to my Instagram feed earlier today is not a memory I actually have, but one that has been built up on with the help of this photo and what my parents told me (or rather, my hazy memory of what they told me).
“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
And Now, the End of This Post
What is a cherished family story you love to hear? What is a family story you love to tell?
“Listen, and you will realize that we are made not from cells or from atoms. We are made from stories.” ― Mia Couto