After a good many years this is one Christmas that will be spent with a lot of family. My sis-in-law will be here with her family which is always nice. And then my cousin P will be here the whole week between Christmas and New Year. And my other cousin B who I mentioned in a previous post will be here for the New year's weekend with his family. People all dear to me. And it promises to be a fun week ahead.
Last time I wrote about my cousins I promised to write a sequel with snippets about the ones I left out in that post. And I never did. However with P coming over this weekend and me being totally excited about seeing him after all this time, just couldn't help but stir up my treasure chest of nostalgia. So do forgive me if I sound all soppy again.
P is my Kaku's son, six years younger to me and as close as it gets to being my own brother. I still remember the day when he was born in our nursing home in South Calcutta. I was really excited about having a kid brother and couldn't wait for him to get out of Kaki's tummy. I remember the first time I laid eyes on him. He was in the nursery with a bunch of other newborns, wrapped up in many, many layers, sleeping peacefully. Minu-di-pishi who was the nurse on duty took him out of the crib, ever so gently, and brought him over to the window so that I could get a better look at the tiny little thing. And I looked at him in total awe, wondering how on earth this tiny little specimen of humanity would ever be able to play with me. And then the next week Kaki brought him home and to me he did not look any bigger or stronger than what I remembered from my first visit. I distinctly remember everyone fussing over him. He was the first boy in the house in our generation and we had a constant stream of relatives and well-wishers pouring in to see the little one. I was allowed to hold him, play with his little fingers and shower my affection on him. To me he was like a living doll that I could play with. And I was so interested in all the new things that sprung up since P arrived......like gripe water (which I thought was a very nice thing to drink) and jars of baby food ( I so wanted to taste the Cerelac) and all the Johnson's baby products...the powder and soap and shampoo.
And slowly P started growing up. He learnt to roll over and smile....he learnt to sit up on his own....mouth garbled words that sounded like ba-ba-ba....he took his first steps.....he started to walk and run and play. And all of a sudden he appeared to be more interesting than I had given him credit when I had first laid eyes on him. He called me Didia. And he followed me everywhere and wanted to do everything that I ever did. He adored me. And I loved him like crazy. Here was one person who actually looked up to me and I could boss around if I felt like taking advantage of my six years of seniority.
I think one of the biggest scares P gave us was when he was barely two and had to undergo a hernia operation. I remember how tiny and frail he looked on the huge hospital bed. Kaki stayed with him the whole time. Daddy was in the O.T. during the surgery while the rest of us waited outside with bated breath. I still remember the gush of relief that swept over us when Daddy came out along with the surgeon who was smiling and reassured us that everything had gone well. P had a second hernia operation a couple of years later and then another one to remove his adenoids. To me who had never spent a day in the hospital it seemed like P was a very weak and sick kid who I had to protect. And I was ever so protective of him. I would defend him, spoil him silly and love him with all my heart. I gave up eating icecreams because P had a tonsil problem and was not allowed to have anything cold. I would accompany him to school, listen to all his tales about his friends, spend hours playing carrom, chess, badminton and tag, come up with new ideas to build things, do stuff, have fun.
And with the years we just grew closer. I still remember the last year that I spent at home right before I got married, P would spend every waking hour at home with me. I guess he had realized that I would be leaving soon and had started missing me in a way. He was busy at that time with school and tuitions and friends......yet, the moment he came back home, he would run up the stairs and come into my room, sit on my bed and give me a detailed account of his entire day's activities. He would tell me about all his troubles at school, keep me up to date on his numerous girlfriends and listen to any advise that I handed out regarding life. The last Christmas I spent at home, feeling sad and lonely because B was in the US and my parents were out, P bought me a Christmas tree so that I could cheer up and decorate it and not feel so blue.
And although it has been several years since then, to me P will still be my little kid brother and I love him exactly the same way I did back then. I asked him last night if he wanted to eat anything special when he would be here with us and he said in a sheepish voice, "luchi". So if you find me missing this following week, you'll know where I am....making luchi, alur dom and fish-fry for my kid brother. So you'll excuse me, won't you?