I found this image in my Facebook feed today and I immediately knew my topic for the Day 3 of A to Z blogging challenge. Its strange how the mind works, when we are at something we start relating everything to it.
Coming back to the topic, I belong to the typical big fat Indian family with couple of dozens cousins on both sides of family. And major part of my childhood specially the summer vacations has been beautifully spent with them. For me it was very different at both sides of family. But I am lucky that all of us love each other and stay connected through various means.
At my maternal Grandma’s place it was all girls gang, there were around 13 girls as against just 2 boys while I was growing up. There were only 2 cousins and my sister who were younger than me. So I used to get a lot of attention and lot of pampering. My cousins would wait for me to come and Mom would be freed from all my responsibility. Some one would make me bath, someone would get me ready, someone would cook my favorite food and play different silly games just to make me happy. As i was the daughter of their favorite aunt and they would meet me only once an year.
I won’t even remember days slipping into each other converting into weeks and before I knew it was time to go back home. Its there I learnt to eat all veggies as everyone would eat together in a fun way. My cousin S used to mash everything in the plate, lying to me for things I won’t eat n I was too small to pick up the taste.
My fondest memory is of sitting near nanajee and just talking to him. In the evening everyone would gather in his room and spend some quality time together. Every trip we used to have a session for re watching old albums and funny home/old marriage videos. What fun it was.
It’s there I did my first business, me and my cousin would have a comics stall where we used to rent out comic books to his friends, we would also provide free pick-up and delivery services sweating ourselves in the sun just to earn few pennies and eat ice cream. Yup life was that simple, financial planning was limited to saving and eating ice cream in the evening.
I learnt about sharing and letting go. I learnt about different people and personalities. As i grew up my cousins started to confine their deepest fears and insecurities, wishes and dreams with me considering me their friend from an early age. Probably because I used to give neutral opinions or simply being a listener and strictly refrained from sharing their secrets with anyone else.
But gradually the dynamics started changing. I got busy with life and my visits reduced drastically. It has also to do with both my maternal grandparents passing away in quick succession. My cousins started getting married. And when I would talk about studies, making career choices, corporate job; their talks were more towards in-laws, jewelry, make up and sareers. They all are perfect daughter in laws of their families, talented, excellent cooks, perfect in every sense. But I couldn’t connect with them at that time. Sometimes it used to break my heart seeing their talent and if they were pushed to make a career, how great they all would be. But guess as long as they are happy it doesn’t matter. Things are again back to track now, not the way it used to be in carefree childhood ways but still the feeling of special connection and belonging remains. The visits are now limited to family weddings but facebook/whatsapp/mobiles have given way to connectivity and being updated.
At my paternal side it was different. After initial years of love showered from all sides (as my dad is the elder of the two brothers and I was the first born among them) I had to play the elder one among a lot of my cousins, had to be responsible and act bossy as most of the times the gathering would take place at our residence. I would make the kids to eat together, not letting them creating a mess, take them to gardens in the evening and just having fun in a different way. At my nani-ghar the vacations would be confined at home as it was a small village and my uncles being businessmen couldn’t spare a lot of time on outings.
On the other hand on this side of the family, we were city based and majorly service people. We would plan outings, eat outs, entertainment parks, sight seeing, shopping trips in nearby places so on and so forth. And it was more a boys gang so the elder ones (teenage and beyond) stopped accompanying their moms on the annul trips after a certain time. But it was fun nevertheless. Experimental cooking was done. Trial sessions were held. Hairstyling and stitching – crochet was done. Serious movie watching and reading done. Endless talks and leg pulling done. Aah all fun done. Though the younger ones still adore me, consider me their favorite didi, share everything with me, take guidance but I grew close to some of my elder male cousins when they shifted to my hometown for studies and lived with us for sometime or at-least had regular weekend trips. I connected them at all the levels of education, career and crushes.
Over the years somehow I realized and my sister feels the same that its your paternal cousins you feel more connected to. In my case it could be similarity in our circumstances- family situation, city upbringing, struggles of making a career, corporate jobs or simply same values being passed on but it still holds true.
But I love them all. You can have best of friends, I do have my share of them. But the way your cousins understand you and family takes them to a different level of friendship. At least one set of parents have the same finicky nature :P, at least they would be aware of your family’s real situation, or your parent’s dynamics and million other little things. They would always be the first best friends I ever had.
I am so glad TBH is equally comfortable and gels well with all my cousins. I am still the go to person for most of them. They still call me at odd hours for advises or to share the firsts of many happy news When someone gets drunk and the matron threatens to call their family, they make me their temporary mom. When they get a few days off, they plan to travel and stay with us rightfully. They religiously like all my fb posts and updates – that in itself says a lot about our relationship :P. I love them, life wouldn’t’ be the same without them. And today I am gonna call at least three of them in honor of this post.