The world tells me it’s a new year. Apparently because the number’s changed. Because the clocks reset. Because we hang new calendars. Because we get new time tables. Because we grow older. Because ‘Happy New Year’ messages flood into our inbox from well-wishers we’ll never hear from again until the next ‘new year’. Because life goes on. People say its bullshit. Some of us say its just 2009, just another number, its still the same life, and what we make of it. Some of us feel its 2008+1, not ready to say goodbye, holding on to 365 days of memories, even the ones that tore us apart. For some of us, it’s the same year. The same one all our life. It’s always the 31st of December. Everyday, is the 31st of December. Well, no matter who’s right, it doesn’t stop you from remembering the people that make your life.
She never lets you pay for anything, even popcorn. She gives you a hardcover book about King Arthur for your 10th birthday. The colours she wears (scarf, top, and pants) make a rainbow look like funeral drapes. She never wants you to make for her whatever it is you’re having, but will always stuff a mouthful, ‘just one’ she says, (the largest ever witnessed) out of your plate. She names her things, whether they’re a phone that has survived inhuman conditions (Orissa), a rice cooker that make curries (Bubbles), or a giraffe soft toy that looks more like a cow (Giffy. 10 points for originality) . She invites you to spend Christmas with her in England, if your schedule permits it. Just you and her. She has to share a room with you until you’re 13. She only hums songs she hates. She wakes you up by hitting you with your bolster and shaking you like she’s trying to bring you back from the dead. She refuses to give up her Sweet Valley collection after all these years. 11 years ago, she taught you how to read music in one night.
He's a combination of Zaphrod (the alien in Liam Lynch's "Whatever" song). Zaphod (the intergalatic president in A Hitchhiker's Guide to the galaxy). Zoltan (the leader of space nerds who wear bubble wrap jumpsuits in Dude Where's My Car) . He’s 10 this year (70 in human years); even if he thinks he’s 3. And that’s not dog years. He can never run in a straight line; it’s always a curve, like his tail. Speaking of his tail, the sound it makes when it hits the side of the cars at home, could put a bass drum to shame, volume and tempo. Instead of communicating with other dogs who bark at him, he just stares. Same goes with when that one cat eats his food. He fetches every ball you throw, but don’t expect it back without a cookie in your hand. He sits and listens to your so-called philosophical take on life; just as long as you keep petting him on the head (another cookie here wouldn’t kill you). He eats everything but dog food. He takes long walks when the gate is left open, and comes back pretending nothing happened (Q: How’d you get cat poo all over youself? A: Nah, its just really bad smelling chocolate cake). He has his own water bowl but only drinks from the lotus pots. He suffers from short term memory loss (tries everyday without fail to swallow the basketball).
She replies every one of your emails. She learnt to lengthen them after a while too, just so she could match yours. She inspired you to go home after 7 years. She showed you another world, where you could be more than yourself. You’d stand next to her and stare at your reflection in the glass displays in shopping malls, to see how you looked together. She ties a turban that makes yours look like a rag. You were both singing Matisyahu’s ‘Time of Your Life’ in the car. That was your moment, when you were both the same. She hates climbing steps (Reference: Batu Caves). She doesn’t quite help you when you swallow a fistful of raw ginger by accident. On the contrary, she laughs her ass off and wipes tears from her eyes. She made you try sushi for the first time. She likes ‘Twilight’ the movie (………). Thank god she knew Bob Marley was dead (inside joke). She buys gifts and laughs at how lame they are as she presents them. She taught you that there isn’t just one person in the world for you. And that’s why you had to let her go too.
The Best Friend.
You don’t know who it is. Maybe it’s every person that sat down next to you and heard you tell your story. Maybe it’s that person in those pictures at reunion dinners from school, college, the flying academy. Maybe it’s the person you keep in touch with the most. You know, the one who calls you from time to time, a person from a memory that seems like a lifetime ago. Maybe its one of your cousins. Maybe it’s that person with 4 legs and a tail who doesn’t bark. It might even be every one of those people you shared a drink with in airports, when you were both waiting. When life was waiting. Whoever you are, wherever you are, and however many of you there are, every one of you was a story. My story. All I can I hope for, is that I was yours too. I’ll love you and miss you. Always.
The Cousin Sister.
She introduces you to rock n roll, that first time when you’re at your grandparents place and Linkin Park’s “Papercut” is on MTV. She convinces you to watch Dostana. Not her finest of moments (she never questions John Abraham’s wardrobe, or lack of). She listens to everything you say intently, even if its you rambling about the same girl for the past year and half. Did I tell you she kills for chocolates (more like massacres, but you didn’t hear it from me)? She comes over sometimes and you watch films together while eating take-outs from En Hui. She sometimes watches Hindi films with you because together you make fun of them to the point of brutality. You meet up with her whenever you have off days. There’s always something to talk about with her. Every time you think of her, you get a text message or a call from yours truly. She believes country music will save the world (I’m being funny with a straight face). She takes you out to Piccolo Mundo’s for your birthday and agrees you get better food in Giorgio Armani.
I’ll never forget the day the SPM results came out. Mataji still had her best smile on for us. All of us. I couldn’t look her in the eye. I didn’t want to go home that day. I remember the first time I came home after leaving for Langkawi. Just one month. Mataji was smiling. She was happy. She makes a killer tofu sambal and detox juices that are either green or purple in colour. She watches Hindi movies so she can fall asleep halfway. She buys trees and pots like Harkiren buys Punjabi suits and erm…… Punjabi suits.
I’ll never forget the day Pitaji and I were yelling at each other for an hour, my eyes in tears, our worst argument yet. A half hour later, I get a call, telling me Raveen’s dad just passed away. More tears in my eyes. I remember my graduation ceremony, when I got my wings, the hug he gave me. He makes fried rice that kills, but also a divine banana lassi. Anything electronic malfunctions when he uses it. He's the kind of guy that gives Mac Gyver toolbox phobia. He eats tosai with a fork and spoon.
The Cousin Brother.
It’s playing on my laptop. Again. The movie. What was once nostalgia is now a present. What were once characters are now the people in my life. What was once a story I wished was mine is now the flyleaf of the rest of my life. I’m remembering emotions. I stop the movie at 1 hour and 39 minutes because it has finished. It’s the first of January 2009. For the first time, it actually felt like I could start over. And it all made sense. You are my saints. And you’re all real.