As I was writing this letter to my dear cousin Meghana on her birthday, getting nostalgic with sweet memories, it unfolded like a story. A true, simple and a heart warming one. Sharing this correspondence, to and from, which I think very rightly belongs to Born Again.
Many Happy Returns of the Day! Wish you a very bright new beginning, literally that you are born again. There was no power today, a maintenance Friday when electricity guys work, the laptop battery had given up and I was just itching to write you. Should wish you something special… it is a very special birthday today….. Engrossed in thoughts I very promptly got nostalgic. Remember the time when we started writing each other?
We introduce each other as our cousins, in reality it is an intricated exercise to tell anybody the details of how we are related and certainly not needed at times of quick introductions. I did tell you the story how we landed up at your house suddenly one evening? I will recall again. When I was young may be 6 – 7 year old I realised I had every relative same as my cousin had (Mama’s daughter) who stayed two buildings away from our apartment, except aatya*. There was nobody I could address as my aatya. Whoever my cousin addressed aatya (except my mom) was my maushi*. She had lot of aatya and she wasn’t even short on maushi which I thought was very unfair. There has to be one my aatya too. I asked mother and she said I had two, one is no more and one we have some family differences. And that she stayed in Dadar where my maushi lived.
We visited Dadar so many times and at one such visit I threw a tantrum that I have to visit my aatya. It was quite a long agitation I think and had applied my full force including hysterical screams and tears to meet my demand. Family members of my maushi had to request one of their neighbours and introduced her to me as my aatya. I wasn’t stupid, I knew aatya didn’t stay so close to be summoned at such short notice but still it somewhat pacified me. I realised the differences must be severe and I had to give up my demands without any promises from the parental government.
I think that my tantrum wasn’t so unsuccessful. It grew on my mother, the idea that her children should know at least their close relatives. Few years later, on one visit to Dadar at maushi’s place, it was my mother who kept insisting my father on visiting aatya. I was somewhat grown up by now and realised there were chances that it could turn into an unpleasant meeting. And father suddenly gave in to my mother’s persistence, we were in a taxi and the taxi driver was directed to your place. I was quietly thrilled. Aatya had become a mystery by now and I thought maybe I will at least get a glance at her.
We all were welcomed happily at your place. Your mother was stunned and surprised to see us, I still remember her expressions. As we seated and our parents started talking to each other I was introduced to my aatya, a smiling fair old lady…
I was slightly disappointed. She didn’t resemble the aatya in my imagination. She had a son of my father’s age, a daughter-in-law,-your mother, two granddaughters, one older than me and you, a grandson of my younger brother’s age. Maybe it was that we were in same grade, something in common that we got along well with each other. I also learnt that in relation I was your aatya………
We stayed in touch. Once in between we had lost contact and then reunited. I was in last year college when I decided to skip exams and reappear for it next year and you wrote me a letter cautioning how we always feel unprepared for exams, don’t succumb to that idea you warned. It was late by then and I skipped the test but it was just a start, in future you and me would have lot of things to say, share or just be there for each other. Today, even though as I would still introduce you as my cousin to my friends, long back we have turned into best of friends, a bond that will outlast this blood relation that sometimes hold no meaning when the communication, understanding, respect and most importantly warmth is missing.
I have missed two important times of your life to be there with you. One, your wedding and the latest when you survived a major heart attack..And how! I have a lot to thank God on your birthday he has been merciful to you and all of us who love you.
And that we both have so much affection for words and dwell everything on that is said and not, it was time to pen at least the half of the story we have already lived, in case, it becomes too long and bulgy if I decided to say after 25 more years. Picture abhi baaki hai meri dost…..
Cheers we have a lot of lovely times to look forward to and when times aren’t that lovely to try and turn them pretty…clink 😉
– – – – – – – – – –
My apologies if I kept you waiting for the reply to this but I didn’t want to rush it.
I have always prided myself for my memory but after reading this I realized it’s a false pride. There are so many details you have written here that I could not recall easily.
However, I do remember your first visit home. I was surprised to see guests at home when I woke up one morning only to learn that the guests are in fact relatives and had arrived during the wee hours of the morning.
I was surprised to see Aaji’s brother with daughter my age – surprised and also curious. But happy. I never had cousins close to my age and this was a first. There were my maushi’s daughters – my cousins – but they had their own circle of cousins. This one seemed interesting.
I remember a summer vacation we spent together at Ratnagiri – eating mangoes and reading Tom Sawyer translated in Marathi. We were probably in the 7th standard then.
And then another time after 10th standard – when we attended the puja for digging the well. I don’t think I ever saw that well completed.
Did we write letters (paper letters) to each other during all those years? Probably not.
The next thing I know is that I am working and you all moved to Surat.
Somehow we have kept in touch over the years because we connect. In the recent years, technology has bridged that gap to a large extent. But yes, there are times when personal presence is irreplaceable. I had missed you dearly at my wedding.
How we connect with someone rarely has anything to do with a blood relation. For us, the fact that we are related was good enough just to get us introduced.
I agree that it is about communication and understanding. It is also about being non-judgemental and reliable. And I think we have both been able to be that to each other to a great extent.
They say a best friend is someone who knows enough about you to blackmail you, but doesn’t.. 😉 Need I say more?
I can totally understand how it must have ripped you to know of my hospitalization. But don’t ever think that you were not with me. Sometimes being with someone in-spirit can be more powerful than being there in-person.
Thank you for being there for me when I have needed an ear. For being my sister, my friend.
I’m glad we were able to spend time with each other during my last trip and I look forward to more such times.. 🙂
P.S. – I cannot imagine you throwing a tantrum. That is very much my ‘thing’.. 😉
*Aatya- Father’s sister
* Maushi – Mother’s sister