August 25 – what if i were born in India?

32/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I was born in Canada 50 years ago and have traveled to the motherland about 5 times in my life. My parents come from two different sides of India but my dad’s side of the family is from a much more rural area and their livelihood depends purely upon farming. They still have water buffalo from which they get their milk and running water is from a hand pump connected to a well. Given this life, one would expect perhaps some type of covert bitterness or envy when the “wealthy Canadian family” comes to visit but my cousin Sarabjit is far from this. He is about a decade my junior but he treats me like a younger, inexperienced brother proudly showing me the town, the fields, the lay of the land, cooking food and of course making his own moonshine for me. Every time I have visited him, he has taken me into a bear hug and definitely makes me feel a welcome part of his home. He was physically ousted from his family’s home along with his wife and kids and set up his temporary home in a reconverted habitat originally for the water buffalo. He slowly, through arduous physical labour, accumulated enough to buy a small place for his family and is doing the best he can for them. I am often saddened when I see the type of life he (and many in India) leads but I do realize that I am seeing it from a Western lens and putting my judgment on something that I have very little knowledge of. I have learned from interacting with him that he lives for the moment/the day – there are no major vacation plans, hockey enrolments, concert ticket purchases, investment planning for 3 weeks or 6 months or 10 years from now but enjoying the present day with whatever you have/has been given to you. I have also learned from him through real experiences that things happen in life (weather ruins crops resulting in lost revenue) and it is something that you just deal with and move on from. I have learned to put my life into perspective because of the way my cousin Sarabjit and his family live their daily existence – I know that I am very fortunate and have a way easier life in all respects but I often wonder who is happier in the end: the person who doesn’t know what they are missing or the person who has it all and is trying to keep it all from going missing. I truly thank you Sarabjit for giving me reasons to be thankful in my life but I thank you more so for being the brother, albeit one I see very rarely, that I never ever had in my own life.


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