August 26, 2012

Cousins


As someone in his 17, unequivocally in “middle adolescence”, I find myself in the stage of life that auger constant assessment – am I happy? Will I be able to indulge in this so-called life zenith and create a plethora of memories like I used to when I was a kid?

During my childhood, one of my most exciting moments was when I could get together with cousins. It was a traditional family ritual for all of my big family members to be in the Grandma’s house when there was a long holiday. Raya Holiday was one example. Prior to this, I would be all thrilled to meet with cousins. And that excitement was evident as I would even plan of what to play a week beforehand; install my laptop with the latest PC games, test the camera knowing that I would be the daily cameraman and never missed to phone all of my cousins daily with the same question, “Are you coming back this weekend?”.

So when everyone was under one roof, it was so exciting. Even if you did nothing, there was this inexplicable excitement that aroused you, knowing that everyone was around you. Your cousins were always smiling sheepishly, ready to follow you with what to play next; your aunts were crazy in the kitchen gossiping about their workmates and showing their latest jewelry collections, your uncles were busy debating on the current politics news, and you could hear your little cousins - the babies, who were weeping unstoppably when they ran into unfamiliar faces, waiting to be cajoled to sleep. It was sheer merriness that turned you on.

I have lots of cousins. Albeit all of us were diversely located, but we grew up with no big difference; we went to primary schools, played Need For Speed, Dinner Dash and some other stupid flash games; had the same idea of what to be when we grew up, watched the same favorite TV shows, and had the bad habit of biting our fingernails. Every time I was with them, the day would be endless. We could not wait to wake up very early in the morning, had some breakfast, meticulously made our way to the living room, plugged the TV with our PlayStation, played Super Mario and some other wrestling games, and never missed to compare our high scores. When it was nearing 12pm, Grandma would be giving us some mats to be unfolded in her backyard. With the breezy wind and her garden works waved so greenly, they created the calmest effect that made you wanted to sleep in her yard. We would then sit on her mats, playing LEGO while some cousins prepared “dishes” made from Grandma’s bamboo grass, some rocks, and sands.  Grandma would then materialize with some mangos and sour fruits from her kitchen, with her handmade sauce and a knife. Of course we would be having a tasty “sour” treat. Then Grandma would tell her old-time stories with my sister combing her magenta-dyed hair, mimicking silly Sophia Loren hairstyles.

Then somehow at 3, we felt a bit artsy and creative so we grabbed some water color sets , pastels and some white blank papers and start drawing things from cars, old houses, to  giraffes and tropical fruits. Realizing that we painted so bad, we crumpled our drawings and started anew. Then the cycle repeated until our teatime. At some time, when the mothers and fathers were having their adult time outside, shopping and buying unnecessary stuff, we the cool kids, didn’t miss this time to sneak to the kitchen; open the fridge to check what was available, take out some knives and chopping blocks, and happily cook like we were highly confident that the dish we cooked would turn out to be the most delicious meal ever created. Or at least it was edible. Then after some time, an odd smell wafted that drove all of us “wekkkk”, giving us an indication to switch off the stove and throw our overly-cooked dish far away from our mothers’ glares.

And at night, when everyone had finished bathing and were all smelling good, we came out with a plan to create a tent. Then somewhere in the living room, we arranged chairs and tables, and put on a blanket, creating spaces beneath it.  Then, there was this one uncle, who would come and told us some horrifying ghost stories. The house was still noisy - with the TV audio turned on so loudly, the children weeping so annoyingly, the mothers and the fathers chatting so loquaciously and laughing so hysterically, it was not even apparent as a night. Nothing really scared us. Only when it was near 1 am, everyone seemed to slow down and locked themselves in their rooms. The noisy chatting sounds just now that almost wiped the house out, now fainted to gloomy sounds of footsteps which became totally inaudible when everyone was in their rooms.

And as always, I was with my cousins. We were still together, in our homemade tent, also started to feel drowsy. We would then happily wrap ourselves up, hug each other and eventually fall asleep. And I smiled, just because of the comfort of sleeping together, knowing that there were people at both of my sides.

Everything was so adventurous with my cousins when I was a kid. There was not even a mundane day; a new day was a fresh start to new adventures and excitement. Then we went back to school; there were no more long holidays, I went to boarding schools, and it was hard to keep up with cousins. We started to grow differently; befriended with different kind of people, watched different movies and TV shows, read different magazines, and started to do everything in our very own ways. As the time passed by, we were all somehow “early adults” with our ages ranging from 16 to 20.

When I came back home from my school, and it was the time for us to get together, I was not as excited as before. I moaned and groaned for my solitary and relaxing moments being distracted as I knew that I could not be alone to watch my favorite soap operas at home, and just wasting time, sleeping and eating. And when we met, everything that I used to see was to no avail. They all changed; they became taller; their voices heightened, their hairdos became weirder and most of all, their topics of conversation were somehow not as interesting as before. There was this kind of unusual awkwardness that imbued me, that made the whole thing awkward. I grew more awkward when asked to react with my cousins these days.

I am not able to prattle about things I used to talk with my friends, when I was with my cousins, as our topics of interest just literally changed. When they talked about sport cars and worn out jeans, I could just watch, fake my smiles, and excessively create unnecessary body gestures, hoping I could interrupt with topics on the Holocaust, honor killings, religion comparison, British indie or even Hollywood most impeccable sex scenes. Whenever I’m with them, I turn out to be less talkative and am only speaking when it is crucially needed. And there is this sigh of relief when everyone goes back home and we don’t have to see each other again. 

What a contrast.

Sometime at night, when I am home and alone, I grab a cup of coffee, some crispy cookies, and any latest magazine, and sit on one favorite chair somewhere in the living room- in front it is a view of the outside- and ponder on various things that I ever encountered. Why does everything pass by so fast? Why do people need to change? Why life is sometimes so not desirable? I wish I were still that talkative kid, who always got excited to be with cousins and came out with ideas of what to play; instead of being this guy who grows up to be so boring each day, where in his hands are nothing but just science books.