My earliest memory of him was "silent and soft spoken cousin of mine". Never talkative, but always very attached to me. We always met during childhood summer holidays at Kotagiri, my native and his maternal grandmother's place. Ever so fluent in English that I used to initially feel nervous talking to him, but then I got very comfortable. We were always in the same teams regardless of the games we played - cricket, seven stones, dark room, or treasure hunt. Also part of the same company in Tambola (Housie housie) games, we shared the spoils and attacked the other companies with the same aggression!
The only time I remember being on different sides was during the battle of 'the slipper throwing' that took place in the 'the between tea estate'. Valiantly fought by my brother on one side and his brother on the other, we took opposite sides in calming tensions down and facilitating the signing of '100 years of peace - treaty'. That treaty is still in force! Boy, those were the days of fun. When I finished school, I missed out on the Kotagiri action and it was not till I finished college that we had a change to get back together again.
Six months of in-plant training in Bangalore and my mom packed me off to stay at my aunt's (his mothers) in Bangalore and thus restarted fun filled time with my him. I was happy to get together with him after a long time. He had changed much but his soft and pleasant nature still remained. He ventured into college, made friends, become a biker and started to grow up. His one talent I still cannot figure out. You can sit right next to him on the phone, but will not be able to hear one word of the conversation. I am still puzzled how he can pull that off and still be heard on the other end.
Some of these times are etched in my memory. Days spent lazing around the MG road side walk (now sadly no more), crossing over to the Food world and back with popcorn or ice cream and ogling at the crowd. Me and him used to be the innocent folk of that age. My aunt and elder cousin would plan frequent tricks on me and we would all have a nice laugh. We stayed up in a small rented house in east Bangalore close to his college and those six months in someways shaped the men that we are today.
Placement in Chennai moved me there and yet we were in constant touch. I visited Bangalore once during my one and half years in Chennai and the reunion was nice. But nothing nicer than moving back to Bangalore and my aunt's house after getting a job here. My elder cousin was in Hyderabad and that renewed the bond between me and him. I get to work and he gets to college and when we come back, we shared stories and weekends we would go to malls or movies and sometimes to play cricket together. We would seldom help my aunt at home except shopping at the Madiwala market on Sundays.
Super times was when we started jogging in the mornings and the whole while we would be chatting. Mostly it would be me talking and he playing a great listener. I miss those times and the lack of exercise shows on my present state. I watched him blossom out from a seldom spoken, silent teenager to a confident and responsible adult with a firm grasp of things. He finished up with college and crisis and moved on to a job of his choice. I dont think I have an influence of the way he has transformed, rather I would attribute that to the company of his friends and colleagues.
He used to follow his role model blindly, without thinking what he really wants. He did that till he finished up with graduation and and wanted to go into the same career. He faced crisis and I watched him overcome the odds and transform. I think that was the one thing that changed his outlook and perspective for the best. From a confused adolescent to where he is right now is such a world of difference.
He is a now a flamboyant guy, full of panache. He has a distinct career and ambitious plans. He is exuberant and mingles with folk with flair. Liked by all, he is the toast of all occasions. He is the most handsome guy of my bloodline and easily now the fittest. I am so much proud of him, of having grown up with him and watching and learning from him.
Today on his birthday, I wish him life's best as always and request a place beside him at all the greats that he is going to scale as life and career take him higher and higher. Let the eagles fly and the brightness is beyond.