80 members live under one roof in this extended family

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Nagpur, Mar 16 (UNI) In this age when nuclear families are becoming the norm rather than the exception, as many as 80 members belonging to three generations of a joint family are all living happily and without friction under a single roof here.

All of them are descendants of Abbu Miyan, a practitioner of the Unani system of medicine, who migrated from Kabul ages ago and set up home in Nagpur after getting a job with British rulers. He later set up a shop selling herbal medicines, and died more than 50 years ago at the ripe old age of 106. The shop still exists.

Abbu Miyan had two sons, who among them had nine sons and five daughters. The nine siblings, their wives, children and grandchildren are the ones who live in the ancestral house in Ganjakhet area of the city. Abbu Miyan's first son died years ago, and the second son, Hafizullah Khan, died last week at the age of 96.

Hafizullah's eldest son Amanullah Khan will now be head of the family.

Afsar Khan, the eldest of Amanullah Khan's children, says that the family lives happily together because nobody makes an issue out of financial matters. ''We all share the expenses as and when the need arises. When it's time to pay for something, whoever is there at that moment gives the money. However, none of us keeps an account of how much money we have spent. That eliminates all problems.'' Although it is a joint family, matters like which school to send the children to, what profession to pursue, what vehicle to buy or sell, are strictly personal matters and are dealt with as such, Afsar said. On the other hand, marriages and matters of joint property are dealt with collectively, he added.

Speaking of marriages, Afsar said that almost half the alliances in the family are within cousins, as is permitted in the community.

This way, there is practically no need to verify the antecedents of the potential match, and the bride does not need to adjust to an entirely new family.

Here's food for thought - there is a single kitchen to cater to all the 80 members of this household, and the womenfolk manage it among themselves like clockwork, by working in shifts. Naturally, it resembles the kitchen of a small hotel, and consumes eight kilograms of flour every day, one bag of rice every eight days, and two cylinders of LPG every ten days, besides gallons of kerosene.

In spite of the major logistical exercise that the family goes through every single day and the obvious difficulties that come with it, nobody is complaining. ''The thought of separating has not even occurred to any of us,'' Afsar said proudly.

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