There were times when I wrote letters to her. Scribbles and doodles tucked in a blue envelope, sealed with a promise to visit her during vacations. I spent most of my summers gobbling mangoes and learning arithmetic from her. And that was probably the first time I realised how beautiful she looked in the most ordinary clothes, when she stretched her arms up to tie her hair into a knot, with that web of tiny pink veins lighting up the apples of her cheek and gleaming honey-coloured eyes that twinkled when she smiled. I was lucky to have her as my sister. My pretty cousin who was my mentor, my role model and my shrink, all rolled into one.
But somewhere, in this age of instant connectivity, my ink dried up, and so did my words. She migrated to the States, and our long conversations reduced to quick emails. I dearly missed the girl noise, those days she’d lead me and Maddy into the park, warning us to wait till she returned, those evenings she’d dig out her considerably sexy outfits and turn the bedroom into a ramp, and those hot afternoons during which she’d patiently wax her legs amidst all the stickiness.
She won a zillion hearts. She still does. How my own mother loved her more than me was both perplexing and infuriating at the same time. Amruta is so well-mannered, Amruta is so sincere. Amruta this, Amruta that. And then I looked in the mirror and wondered if I’d ever be like her. How could two souls stemming from the same mud be so different? I also considered the possibility of adoption, but I had inherited my father’s rebellious nature and my mother’s scepticism. May be we are different flowers from the same garden. A fiery tigress and a stubborn kitten from the same cat family.
It’s only after so many years that I visited her last month that I realised I’d never be like her. I cannot fathom the thought of starting from scratch in a strange country, of being the best daughter, wife, mother, sister, and most of all, an amazing human being. I see her play hopscotch from a homemaker and software professional to a kickass wife and a loving mother of two brats (who want to sit on her lap, sometimes face, at the same time) with enviable ease, and here I am, learning to deposit a cheque on my own.
My cousin’s a rare breed. If you take a picture with her, she’d be looking at the camera, and you’d be so mesmerised by her striking beauty and cheerful vibe, that you’d be looking at her. And well, “hearing her laugh is like listening to the best kind of symphony”, I promise.