Isla will be four this August and Rosie three in December. The kinship between the sisters, their prattle and pranks are the flavour of the family. Their mother, Raveen, is Punjabi; their father, Stanton, is born of a French mother and an Indian-British father. They are a perfect blend of religion and culture, a confluence of love and faith.
The couple got married as per the Sikh and Christian rituals. They had met at Oxford in the UK while pursuing their doctorates: she was studying genetics, he chemistry. Seeing their happy family and bubbly daughters, one can discern how their chemistry and genetics have flowered; they stay with Raveen's parents: an extended family. Tying the knot was not difficult either, given their understanding parents.
This truly international family makes you think beyond borders of culture, region and religion to understand the way humans complement each other for a harmonious, emotional relationship.
Stanton comes from Cape Town, South Africa, Raveen is from Ferozepur, Punjab; they live in Mississauga, Canada. Stanton loves going to the gurdwara and partaking of langar. He feels at home in the new-found social and cultural Punjabi milieu. Communication is no bar. Though English is the common medium, a potpourri of languages adds to the family fusion.
At home, while parents are away to work, maternal grandmother takes on the responsibility when the granddaughters return from school. It is a treat to watch the girls vying to read out stories from their books to the grandma. When she points to her snow-white hair and says, "I'm too old to play and run around," Isla giggles and corrects her, 'No, nani, you are new, not old," a new coinage for the elderly.
The other day, Isla was out to the Mall with her grandfather, a senior project manager with the Greater Toronto Airport Authority. She knows her grandpa is hard of hearing. When the salesperson repeated the choice of food item to be packed, it was left to Isla to tug at her grandpa's trousers and say it loudly what the man behind the counter was asking. "She became my hearing-aid," he later told his wife.
This is just one instance of cross-cultural fusion without any confusion in working relationships among two families coming together as they do from two different continents living without fear of being hounded by self-appointed conscience-keepers of society. Our tricity is also home to a number of such families living together without any hassle. Are the fanatics who talk of 'ghar wapsi' listening? Let's make our world truly a global community. Cutting across caste, colour and creed lines, let's be humane. Let peace, harmony and tranquillity prevail.
(The writer is SAS Nagar-based retired Punjab information commissioner and a veteran journalist)