Did everybody have one? The same sex cool cousin? Or is it just a girl thing?
I know that most girls had a cool older female cousin.
I had an older cool cousin who was actually a cousin-aunt i.e she was my fathers cousin. However those were the times when my grandmother and her mother were procreating more or less simultaneously, therefore my grand uncle was more a brother to my father and my grand uncle’s children were more of our (i.e brother and me) cousins rather than our aunts or uncles.
There was a good 8 year age gap between me and Cool Cousin and a 12 year age gap between me and her also cool older brother. My Cool Cousin naturally developed an easy camaraderie with my brother who was only 4 years younger than her, rather than with me -I was an annoying and childish and bull headed and an unshakeable tag along.
However to my 10 year old mind, the 18 year Cool Cousin was naturally the coolest- a source of both inspiration and envy. We would have our bi annual or so visit to Chennai to visit our grandparents and therefore also our cousins. Most of the other cousins were either too old or as yet unborn for us to bond with and therefore this pair of cousins i.e Cool Cousin and her older brother (really our fathers cousins) became our favorite cousins.
I would at once try to be adult (to match her cool 18 year old) and a baby (to be coddled and baby-ed by her 22 yr old brother) resulting in a curious and most times frustratingly annoying mish mash of persons. I would want to wear her clothes, her shoes, her jewelery, hang out with her every minute of the day which she smilingly and uncomplainingly let me do, even though she’d much rather gossip or play games with my older brother. I would follow her around getting into her clothes, ruining her shoes, insisting she used all her make up on me which I would invariably ruin, and play with me me and only me (the unsaid is me to the exclusion of my brother), while at the same time howling and screaming when she joined me when I was quietly playing my childish and imaginary games by myself. (Her favorite story is how I bawled and screamed because she sat on my imaginary invisible container of rasam and thereby ruining the imaginary feast I had prepared). I wanted her very much to include me in that 18 year old world she inhabited – the world with best friends who are not your parents, the world with secrets and giggling and words 10 year olds don’t understand (im not talking about the naughty ones but the words like cool, groovy and lyrics to english songs). However it was impossible for her to share this world with an 10 year old who screamed at imaginary rasams being spilled. To add to it all there was my brother, who firmly believed that I was definitely not part of that world and though he may not be 18, he was certainly 14 and certainly closer to her cool 18 year old world and sneered with disdain at my pathetic 10 year old world. Being in a world that your sister inhabits is probably the heights of uncool for a 14 year old boy. So he would try to drag her away for games and movies and such like muttering resentfully at my determined tagging along. Cool Cousin of course laughingly let us tail her around. I was after all her ‘cute lil baby cousin’ (yech! I dint want to be the baby!) and my brother was fun near her age playmate, all the while completely unaware of our internal shoving and pushing to be granted the cool points by her. My brother invariably gained the cool points simply by virtue of knowing the right movies and the right games, leading me to form an alliance with her older brother. He would much rather play and kid around with me that spend time with his so uncool sister. She would be much pained by this elder brother defection as I would be by the defection of my own. My brother would always take her side while hers would take mine.
And the growing up years and vacations went by. School go-ers became college go-ers. And college go-ers became fresh members of the working force. Bi annual vacations disappeared. Cousins got married, cousins moved abroad, new cousins were born. Brothers and sisters grew up and learnt that they had far more in common than parents. My younger counsin in Chennai demands that I find for her multi coloured hair bands that I sometimes wear along with platform shoes and insists next time I am in Chennai, I make time to go to the new cool coffee day by the beach where she and her grown up crowd ‘hang’ and rolls her eyes as her younger sister gabs hysterical rubbish about dolls and balls and tries to grab the phone from her elder sister to tell me all about them.