The concept of "family" is absolutely an ancient term, which began from the genesis of humankind. Man is a social being, therefore living alone is impossible for any human being. Being ambient by social rituals and religious practice, people love to lead lives in an organised manner that generates affection, care, sharing and respecting each other who choose to live together. Family is such a selfless platform where everyone unanimously feels the responsibility, even the urge to take utmost care for others without consideration. This is called bonding, something that is beyond measure by any means, and it is priceless.
When we started understanding surroundings with our good sense and knowledge after birth, we found our affectionate and amicable parents, sisters, brothers, and relatives taking care of us and protecting us from unusual situations. We have grown up within a healthy, safe, and peaceful environment that taught us to become generous in behaviour; thus, we groomed up with social norms and values to help us become good fellows in society. We felt secure and free to do our regular day-to-day affairs with little hesitation at every layer of life during childhood. That was the flavour of life, the most precious moments in our time. During our childhood, we had a straightforward lifestyle that was entangled with no high technological variation. There was no frequent change of technology as present. Even lifestyle was not so diverse, relatively easy going. Our parents give full attention to our education and the company we are meeting. Most of the mothers were homemakers, while fathers were the breadwinners. Financial solvency was not well, but there was a minor complaint from each family member. Because this amount could have managed to afford living expenditure and made us smile meeting our minimum requirements, this was possible as the needs of our life always were circled within the income limit, and it was, however, never full of high demands. Every day our morning would start with taking lessons from school and then sometimes at the playground with intimate local friends before going to school. We would play a no. of that time top-rated traditional games like football, cricket, spinning top, revolving iron-made ring, etc. While it rained, we drenched our body with a fallen tender drop of water, covered it with mud in the playing field, and took complete pleasure until being tired running from one end to another of the open area and the home-side's roads. Playing football in the rain was one of the delightful everyday events as well. On the holiday, we would eagerly wait for the call of our friends for playing football in the morning. At the end of football match, we, the group of friends used to go to nearer river or pond for bath with full of mud on the body. That was full of pleasure. Sometimes parents got annoyed and scolded, but nothing could tie up us in the home to repeatedly take these boundless joys. In the rainy season, another joyful event was catching fish with fishing rods. The influx of new smelling water covered up playgrounds and the open space around our houses, which became the source of plenty of many kinds of fishes. We, with our family members enjoyed catching fish and went to arrange mini picnic with all our friends. In the winter after end of the school's final exam, it was common to make fun with friends attending a sharing of food ingredients like picnic named "Choruivati". We would also prey nestlings and also dragon flies and played with other members of the family at home. All the events were really joyful. These simply show a lucid scenario that depicts a strong family ties at those times.
Family time in the presence of all members, including neighbours, made a regular get-together during our time. Almost every day, we would laughter-out-loud with gossip, but sometimes there was serious talk about the annual exam card or some critical family problems with neighbours when quarrels between their children occurred. We often took free time after dinner and listened to popular radio programs during the mid of the day and early at night. There was rarely television in every house like nowadays. A few houses had this unique big-sized screen box that symbolized prestige and gave them an identity of affluent to others. As there were few electronic devices available to most of the families, the members would prefer to engage in light group activities for family amusement with some typical in-house games like "Ludu," "Charam-board," "Baghaduli," "Pasha," "Chase" etc., even sometimes neighbour friends participated too. These were full of natural fun and mind refreshing. In the evening time of spring, the sky remained to adorn with colourful kites flying from almost every roof of the building and roadsides. Dragon fighting i.e., one kite dislocating another kite from thread was another exciting game and children raced keeping other behind for who would collect the thread-torn kite first. Thread prepared by smashed glass dust and big-sized bamboo-made whirl was used to fly kites that made a festival. It simply portrays a very adorable picture if we view all those over the decades without any exaggeration.
Nowadays, the family's day-to-day picture is changed and lost its evergreen rhythm by our redundant mechanized lifestyle. Unfortunately, family time has been replaced by screen time these days. Children like to remain glued to the phone or tab screen. Different types of mobile sets, the small but addictive devices are much more enjoyable to them than having a joyous family time. Texts, emotions by emojis have replaced phone calls. The life of teenagers revolves heavily around electronic devices. Social media has snatched out the family time from all of us. Everyone regardless of brothers, sisters, cousins remain busy browsing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. In spite of getting together in a place, they are very often found not to engage in face-to-face talk, keep silence and plunged with his mobile device. It seems he/she cannot live without it and it gives everything for him. This has reached a level of serious addiction which is destroying human mentality and family bonding too. Grown up with high tech is making family life imbalanced. In the past, family gatherings buzzed with laughter and guffaws. People loved to experience moments. But now, people are more inclined towards recording the moments or viewed with the 'Smartphone Slouch.' Hence everything has a staged aura. Family values were put to utmost importance before, but now they are not followed that much. Family members felt obliged to sit for meals together which made them interact and share snippets of their day. But the present generation may hardly feel the need to share their thoughts with family and would prefer being holed up in their rooms for hours.
Family bonding is a unique virtue that had been cherished and kept by our ancestors in the past. Quality time with our family is important in building a stronger relationship. Family bonding time builds confidence, teaches children about interacting with others, and creates beautiful memories that last a lifetime. Therefore, we have to think about it seriously. Having left growing mechanised flavour in life, we need to completely guide our next generation in the right way so that they can grow up with appropriate family supports and education. That should be our major priority for the sake of restoring family bonding before it goes at further stake.
Md Ziauddin Iqbal is Senior General Manager at PKSF, Dhaka