Batak

“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn’t depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.”

Trenton Lee Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society

Have you ever take a closer look at a group of people that you called: The big extended family? They usually don’t meet up regularly, although they often attend the same wedding or funerals regardless of how they feel toward the bride/groom or the decease. They are gathered at the same venue because it will be considered rude if they are not present at such a “family” event.

I did, yesterday, in a small family gathering to honor my late uncle who just passed away at the beginning of this month. And by looking at them, I am letting go of the concept of an ideal ‘family’. I used to think that a family would be like a specific organization in which its members will always support other members in need, the member will always keep in touch with ease, communicate with agreeable tone to each other, when there’s a dispute between the members, other members, preferably the old and the respected will chip in and help to settle any dispute. I let go of this ideal vision of a family kinship because I am actually struck by a slight depression when I take an up-close look of my own family. My big extended family is so, let’s just say.. ‘different’.

A big extended family is indeed a particular organization where all the members are connected by blood or other circumstances such as adoption. So we are linked to this ‘ connection’ without any prior notice, at some point in my life, I will be introduced by my mother to a person who I should call properly in accordance with our Batak custom, no one will ask me, do you like her/him? or do you think s/he interesting/kind/wise? From the moment I was told that this is your nantulang/namboru/bapa uda etc… I should have considered them as my family. no further question.

Born as a Bataknese, I am gifted with a huge extended family with myriad personalities in its complete package. Well, they are not fit with the family in the “little house on the prairies” image, but I guess I like them. Bataknese have a neat and knit close kinship system. Every member of our family organization will deserve a tick in a broad range of personalities; when I said broad, I mean it, this range may cover to the extreme far-right and left. So full of possibilities, interesting in every way and we will never have a boring family event.

Still in this weird time, I wish you and your family, near and far, will be safe and happy, surrounded by kindness every time, everywhere.

Cheers, Ririnkoko

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