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Family groups

By Nickunj Malik - Apr 05,2018 - Last updated at Apr 05,2018

Technological inventions have brought us all closer — this is an undisputed fact. With the advent of social media, long lost friends and acquaintances are able to get in touch at a moment’s notice, including the ones you have been trying to avoid. Moreover, with the click of a button, you can find yourself included in a family WhatsApp group that you had no intentions of joining. Ever! 

All of us are saddled with certain relatives, connected to us by birth or by marriage that are simply insufferable. Ten minutes in their company, where they praise themselves, their older child, themselves, their younger child, themselves, their spouse, themselves, the older child once again, and so on, has one climbing the walls! 

In the earlier days, after such an encounter, one could evade them successfully for the next several lifetimes but now; it is almost impossible to do so because of the long reach of our smartphones. They work everywhere on the planet, therefore, you can run but you can never hide. 

A few years ago, my husband and I discovered that we were added to a private messaging group that consisted of our cousins. Both of us did not recognise any of the people in the unit, because the names we called them by, and the ones registered against their profiles, did not match. I thought they must be my husband’s relatives and he thought they were mine and so, in mutual confusion, we accepted the request. 

Soon, the notifications started flying, fast and furious, which we automatically ignored. But one evening, out of sheer curiosity, I followed a conversation and found to my horror, that the person who was pontificating nonstop, was none other than the one I had been dodging for over a decade. 

He was older and balder but his monologues still spilled forth forcefully, especially after the copious amounts of alcohol that he regularly consumed. Not having made much of his life, he was now living vicariously through his children and everything that they did, was shared with the rest of us, in a detailed manner. Shaky videos, blurred photographs and out of focus pictures were posted repeatedly, for the benefit of anyone who was interested in viewing them. Also, at the drop of a hat, he was ready to pick up a fight. 

Going through the messages, I learned that he intensely disliked the short nickname given to him by his parents and answered only to his full and formal title. It was only after I read this that I put two and two together to figure out his real identity. The intervening years, since I had last suffered his company, had not been kind to him, and the smoking and drinking had taken a toll on his appearance. 

When I explained this to my spouse, he did not believe me and thought that I was making it up. So the next time the cousinly group notified me, I called him around to observe carefully, as I participated in the chat. 

“Hello Kullu”, I typed, interrupting Kullu’s steady soliloquy. 

There was a moment’s pause. 

“This is Kuleshwar Nakuleshwar,” Kullu replied. 

“My son got first division in his tenth grade,” he boasted. 

“Congratulations Kullu,” I wrote. 

“Don’t call me that,” he snapped. 

“I will block you,” Kullu warned. 

“Hi Kullu,” my husband typed, in deliberate uppercase. 

The chat window took five full seconds to disappear. 

“Problem solved,” he concluded, handing me the phone.

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Comments

A chuckle a line, racy read that I went through in a shorter time period than spent in uttering " first cousin".

Every reader would identify with the insufferable people one just cannot jettison even if one went to outer space.

The sentences highlighting the felicity of social media to connect long lost people INCLUDING THE ONES ONE WAS TRYING TO AVOID and the paragraph detailing the self aggrandizing pains in the neck were delectably crafted.

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