Now, this postcard is originally dated 31st December, 2015 –
While we’re still on this side of the year, I’m on some sort of spree to tell you all about it, or at least all about December which went beautiful enough to write postcards to you about.
Mostly, I’m writing because I have to, absolutely have to tell you more stories about the Goa trip with my cousins that I’m going to bore my children with in years to come.
Cousins can go two ways in life – Type A: You either don’t know them much, meet them at obligatory family events with the kind of plastered smile that makes your face ache, make polite small talk and answer questions about your life that have the potential to drive you into immediate existential crisis.
Type B: You have some of your most wonderful times with them since childhood, establish the kind of rapport that you won’t have with anyone else in the world, know all your life that there are people in the world who’ve seen the most embarrassing sides of you as a kid and still love you, and dearly treasure the laughter, happiness and childhood that’s magically in the air every time you’re with them.
Those are two awfully long sentences encompassing a lot; but I couldn’t have put it any other way. Now, thankfully (a million times thankfully) the cousins concept in my life was Type B. Being the youngest, though, I missed out on a lot of it. By the time I grew up enough to be a whole individual team member, people had gone to find their respective pots of gold wherever their rainbows led them. We were used to a generous supply of what we shared in each of our lives but career, marriage, family, life and such things inevitably gnawed into it.
After grabbing at scraps of one another for years, we had given up somewhere along the way except for the occasional stir. During a festival get together and Skype call this year, people got a bit more passionate about everyone being together and possibly taking a trip; but nobody believed it enough to finalize anything until the first few tickets were booked. To heighten the excitement, it was planned around my sister’s and my birthdays.
By the time it was actually about to happen, all the planning, glitches, re-planning, possible itineraries, jokes, discussions and a literal countdown had built the trip up so much that missing it would have been one of the biggest regrets you had in life.
So you can imagine my state of mind when a day before going, I was surrounded by every possibility of me not being able to go. While hoping against hope, I also had a sister on the phone trying to infuse the ‘Carpe Diem‘ spirit in me with words like “All the cousins together on one trip is something that’s happening after nearly a decade! You don’t know when this could happen again next. It’s going to be a birthday celebration like never before for us. I would be radical enough to let nothing come in the way of it and show up. I don’t know about you.”
Even when we were finally there, I had a lot of doubts about all of us getting along after so many years, let alone being back to the way we were. Who knew how much each of us had changed? We still had the capacity to make a few jokes and laugh together but the next few days would reveal whether we were still going to be in the B type of cousins or move to A.
Honestly, it took a while for me to warm up to everything around me. There were a few quintessential Goa bike rides that went awfully silent for me while I tried to come up with things to talk about with a brother I hadn’t met in seven years. Initially, I let Lucky Ali songs fill the silence because they were the last thing I remembered of him.
There was a dinner that entailed of just getting to know in detail what each of us does professionally. I was thoroughly impressed by how varied and innovative the fields were in which my cousins had established themselves. I didn’t know some of these things even existed in the world and I didn’t understand a lot of what was being explained either. It’s like looking at a gigantic gadget with a lot of shiny buttons, watching it perform its magic, not being able to fully grasp what goes into it and yet you can’t help gasping and going “Wow!”
Moreover, there’s so much we didn’t know and still don’t know about each other. In the last decade that we haven’t been with each other, there’s so much we have lived and become.
And that’s where the next part features –
There’s one important part of all relationships that we somehow either thought we’d already conquered or we just hadn’t paid so much attention to earlier – pet peeves! What things cause a rise or fall in the levels of anger on a person’s barometer? What makes them annoyed enough to judge you for the tiniest second and send an insinuating joke or snide remark your way? What makes their blood boil enough to make their eyes go red and have them swearing revenge on you? Okay, not that last kind of anger; but I’m proud…I repeat, proud to say that we managed to piss each other off one time or another during the trip.
I mean, we were probably going to get to know each other afresh, yet hold on to what we all used to be and all that eventually anyway. But nothing got us there faster than getting each other angry and having to either make up for it or work our way around it later. It began right from the train journey to Goa which everyone missed except my one cousin brother and my niece. And we tested one another’s patience a lot and kept finding ways to cool them off and make everyone happy.
In my opinion, that’s one of the major things that led to the one truly magical night when all of us sat up actually catching up. While going through all our old memories, pulling one another’s legs with some new found liberty, talking about our lives more deeply, being open to suddenly rightful criticism or advice, eating or drinking, falling asleep around each other and waking up occasionally to join in the conversation again, we found one another again – the old and the new.
Me? I found a side of me again that I had honestly forgotten all about. A bit of my childhood, a little of the embarrassing, goofy or freakish parts of my personality, some of the origin of my humor, some things about me that even I don’t understand anymore but they do and a few traits that run in the family. A lot of it finally explained a lot of mysterious confusions that arose during the classic existential crises that you let yourself indulge in, every once in a while. What I’m trying to say through my incredibly long and somewhat convoluted sentences is this – I found a lot of myself too.
It’s important, World, to have you, to see you, to be in you, to make our place in your face, to be who we’re meant to be and go wherever we’re meant to go in your being. But it’s equally important, if not more, to have our own world in you. And I don’t just mean your family, although nothing beats them. But there need to be these people in the world who know what you’re made of and who won’t settle for any lesser no matter how far they go or how long they haven’t been able to be in your life for.
I mean, we haven’t gotten back completely to how we used to be. We haven’t even got to know one another as much as we did before yet. It’s a good place we’re in, where we’re still continuing to know things about everyone, still continuing to piss people off and figuring out ways to avoid or resolve it. But one thing is for sure – We’re still definitely Type B. Thank God for that (a million times)! It feels like an upgrade you had forgotten you’re privileged to – and that’s what makes even traveling back home with my cousins in a stinky, stuffy general compartment fun. Hope one of them is paying close attention to that last part!
Also hope that everyone of your people has people like that, World! Here’s blessing them with it to make their world as beautiful.