Family, extended family, childhood fun, games that you played.
I have a lot of first cousins and second cousins. And yeah, I understood the concept of second cousins while I was in school. A more helpful description is here,in case you didn't know - Courtesy - Wikipedia. We share common ancestors, grand parents or great grand parents.
I grew up in a small town away from all my cousins. Most of my first cousins from both maternal and paternal sides, lived in villages and studied in rural schools in Hoblis or Talukas nearby their homes. In that sense, my siblings and I were the privileged lot who got a chance to study in the town's one and only Private English Medium School at that time.
I rarely met them. It was only when we had some poojas at home. And may be when we attended marriages or functions outside of town or sometimes during summer and winter vacations.
When I look back at those years, the one thing I seemed to have problems with was that a majority of my first cousins were way too older than us. Some of them 10-14 years older than me. Blame both my parents for being the youngest in their families. We ended up being the youngest too :) So there was a huge gap in terms of relating to the phases in each one of our lives at the time. With some of them who were almost the same age as us, I remember having difficulty in sharing what's happening at our schools since they studied in a rural set up, and barely had any opportunities to explore extra curricular activities in sports or otherwise.
On the contrary, I was in touch with many of my second cousins who lived in the same town and studied with us. I remember discussing school stories with them through the noons over the weekends or during playtime. Also there were some of my older second cousins who I idolized and wanted to grow up to be like them. But again, they lived in Bangalore, a city which in itself passes on many things, which you can't relate to, coming from a small town. So I did face trouble on both sides of the spectrum.
Yes, there were all these constraints. But then, there were these high points as well. I remember spending so many nights on terraces in our villages homes, grandmas' homes, carrying mats and beddings. Watching stars through the night discussing the latest movies, songs and other useless things. And by 5 - 5 30 AM, when the weather became too cold to sleep on the terrace, we used to quickly run downstairs and then continue to sleep :)
I also remember relishing some home-made delicacies which our grand moms and mothers prepared for us during our vacations. My grand mom made this tamarind-salt-jaggery-jeera all crushed and made into little laddoos. Ah, so sour and tangy! One of my aunts made this awesome Beetroot Halwa. In fact I have never found it being made anywhere else and I wish more people made it, it's just so good. And those ice creams from the carts which you bought and ate together.
So, many years later when I started working and got hold of a mobile for myself I started calling some of them who also happened to have mobile phones/or were using emails, sometimes on their birthdays or wedding anniversaries. But still, I don't know birthdays of many of my first cousins.
2014. I feel the situation may not have entirely changed. But now I meet them more frequently and I do not let go of any opportunities I get to meet them and their children, in spite of living many miles away from them.
Do you also have that cousin who talked too much, who spoke endlessly spinning stories, which you thought were not true? Or a cousin who didn't speak at all and sulked all the time? Or the one whom you avoided because of gossip and secrets slipping out of your circle? Or the one whom you idolized through your growing up years? Or the one in whom you confided in, more than with your own siblings?
I remember reading this somewhere recently. ''A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost". And I think to myself. Indeed.