I was lying in bed yesterday night, thinking like I always do after 12 a.m.
I forgot where my thoughts began from. In the middle of it all, though I distinctly remember thinking about my 6 year-old cousin.
I wondered what I was like when I was six.
Then I wished (not for the first time) that she was at a more mature age. Maybe 12? But since she’s turning 7 this November, I guess a five-year jump is too much of a miracle to ask for. And then I wondered what would the world be like when she actually did turn twelve. I would certainly not be a teenager then.
Early twenties, probably. And then I thought about when I was six and my cousin, on the paternal side, was in her late teens. And then I turned eleven and she was in her twenties.
I guess where I’m getting at, is how ‘generous age gaps’ between cousins or – for that matter – people in general, affects their attitudes to one another. I remember when my twenty-something cousin called me ‘Beta’ which is the Urdu equivalent of someone calling you ‘Child’ or ‘Kid’.
To put it simply, I was offended.
“I’m your cousin! Not your niece. Why are you calling me ‘Beta’?” I had asked, indignantly.
To which, she had replied, “I’m nearly ten years older than you. What else do I call you?”
I didn’t say it, but my name would have been a useful alternative.
Which led me to think last night, that it would be a similar case for me. I would be in my twenties when my little cousins would enter the teenage years. But I wouldn’t want them to look at me as an adult figure. That would just be wrong. Cousins should not be thought of as adult figures.
I wouldn’t want to stick my cousins in the sort of situations I was stuck in. Always being afraid and awestruck, thinking of the elder cousin with the amazing grades and exceptional taste in books, music and movies as the perfect adolescent.
Of course, most will think – after reading this – that I have some sort of resentment directed towards my [much] elder cousins [of which I have 5]. But I don’t.
All I’m saying is that I know that if one wants to be approachable, one can choose to be so.