I was fortunate to grow up with all my cousins living in the same city. We spent our childhood vacationing for a week in Ooty every year. The rest of the summer would go by playing cricket, board games and card games. We came up with a legendary game of driving our own spaceship with each of us having specific roles mapped out – quite literally! I still have maps of our space driving routes. I remember us concocting a mixture of manathankaali from the garden, peanuts, salt and pepper (God knows what else we put in there) and proudly making Amma and Athai drink it (Bless their stomachs!) I have rose-tinted memories of licking brownie batter off, tagging around Athai until she took the brownies out of the oven only to be finished in one sitting.
We grew up together. And for a couple of years, drifted apart slightly while we each dealt with teenage angst and growing up in a world without Facebook and whatsapp.
But Madras was always the base. We came back home to countless sleepovers, late night snacks, and a mix of uncontrollable giggling and deep conversations. We mourned the death of a beloved Thatha together. Celebrated as some of us got married, moved away from home again, and began careers.
I boarded the train to work this morning only to get an excited ping from my elder cousin sister, “The baby just kicked! I wish you guys were here to feel it!” In the 20 minute ride to work, we’ve exchanged over a 100 messages and I have a big grin on my face. We fought over who had the best nickname for the baby-on-the-way, discussed what was happening in the Olympics, what our daily routines involved and what everyone was doing for the weekend. And the best part? This wasn’t a one-off conversation. There’s ALWAYS someone to talk to and something to talk about. Within our group of five, we have smaller relationships. We’ve known each other long enough to know the good and bad in each other’s lives and to know that it doesn’t make a difference.
I’m the first to admit that technology helps. But I won’t be so quick to credit it all to having easy access to instant messaging. Keeping in touch takes real effort. To make the others feel a part of your life by sharing the significant and the everyday. To continue to have meaningful conversations and share truly terrible jokes.
Today and everyday, I am so grateful. Grateful for this constant comfort, these very special people that have loved me from my earliest memories. And I pray that I come back to this space many many years from now to write that while we’ve all grown up, the constant comfort hasn’t changed.