The gang of cousins:
My cousins and their kids have come down from Mumbai- and now we’re a big paltan- I’m the eldest – the youngest in my generation is of my elder son’s age- Its fun to observe kids at play…just today I was having a game conversation - with my 3 year old nephew Govind- on his toy mobile-He has this delightful lisp too- he started speaking very late, while Aparna, my neice who is a few months younger speaks nineteen to the dozen like a grandmother and her pronounciation is perfect- yea, so Govind was here speaking to me on the toy mobile and he was very earnest abt it- spoke so well, amazing to see how much these kids observe, grasp, when suddenly he says the line got cut! I had to also fall dead appropriately , convincingly whenever he shot at me with his gun..only to be resurrected to be killed again and again..
With Aparna, we had to cook, make ice cream- keep them in the fridge, wash dishes- put a baby to sleep- she would order me and I would obey- finally aparna’s mother- my cousin sister had to intervene to let me off so that we could talk…she agreed on the condition of a story- talk abt gender role conditioning/stereotyping - but I tell you- all of it came spontaneously with no coaching.
Yesterday, we ( my 3 cousin sisters and me) went for a long walk through this village- sort of proving that the earth is round…we stopped on the way to burst these little buds on those thorny bushes which when pressed softly splits open with a “pop” sound…the kuchha roads were pretty bare..and we were talking and laughing loudly…quite oblivious to the perplexed stares of the few people loitering around .it was a long winding muddy road, and a stray dog was following us..we were a bit worried…we needn’t have for soon enough it got scared by our cacophony and hurried away…We kept yapping- forgetting age, responsibilities- our children were safe and enjoying with their grandparents- and cousins- we had a year to catch up with- stories of household- workplace (my cousin sisters are teachers) abt Mumbai life- which mainly involved travelling in the local trains, Trichy life …so much…and then compare our lives of long ago…just exchanging notes, memories- experiences- sometimes laughter, sometimes a few tears…but lots of sharing…talking way into the night, singing songs- my cousin sisters, they sing beautifully- a feeling of sisterhood – borrowing the words of another blogger-
Daily evening, my cousins and me went for long walks in the neighbourhood- yesterday, while walking, an old village woman, stopped us and asked us if we weren’t the kids at whose homes she used to supply rice years ago…right in the middle of the road- she asked every detail of our families- number of kids- why only 2…etc- u know the naïve, innocent rustic kind of enquiries which might perhaps seems too inquisitive-and in that typical village dialect, but then it was fun- we really enjoy the way sometimes villagers just stop mid way and stare away- only old people ok- some of them then ask, who we are- which family- the entire life history to be updated to the present date right there in the middle of the road, we had to also listen to her tales- about her son, daughter who recently delivered yet another girl – it was her 4th baby! We stood right there listening to her. It felt like we were playing out roles in an art movie!
Sometimes some of these elders mistake us for our mothers- for them somehow the face of the past remained frozen in their minds- they had forgotten that time had caught up with the rest of us too…there is a wistfulness, a faraway glaze in their eyes as they try to link images from the past to the scene in the present…there is bewilderment, a sense of disbelief- as if it had never occurred to them that we might evolve into adults and finally they decide that it was getting dark and send us on our way with blessings-
And now, the Gang- my cousins and me of course, decided to learn driving- we have a regular taxi here- the driver is almost a family member because, we hire his taxi for most of our trips here- we had lots of fun- we are such chatterboxes, we go on and on- chabad chabad…and guffawing away- finally Gopi (our driver tutor asked us to shut our mouths and concentrate on driving). We’re a bit nervous too- , how does one get everything to function t’gether- concentrating on the road- other vehicles, clutch, accelerator- steering- God help us! Just remembering those fun filled moments bring damp smiles into my eyes.. a cocktail of happiness and a dash of sadness.