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Monday, May 26, 2008

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star...

Remember that part of your childhood wherein you totally idolised someone who was in college/ in their teens or early twenties??? What WAS that about???

My folks became the local guardians to this young lady who was a family friend, when I was about ten (Those were the days when girls 'brave' enough to stay away from home to study/work were appointed local guardians to watch over them... personally, I like keeping my head low and handling my life myself). So, this cousin of mine... in her late teens then, she had long waist-length hair and was so utterly beautiful!* She was also the embodiment of what the generation before ours considered 'virtuous' -no vices, no boyfriends... Every inch the perfect little woman.

In the years that we knew her, she came over regularly, always helped my mum out in the kitchen, baked cakes for our birthdays, brought us all presents from her first earnings, was very well-behaved and had beautiful manners, carried herself well, dressed beautifully, had something interesting to say to every member of the household no matter their age, was skilled in painting, emboridery, calligraphy and had a million other accomplishments and a huge circle of friends. At her wedding a few years later, although I was an itsy-bitsy teenager I remember thinking 'Maybe I ought to get married too' just so I could be lavished the sort of love and attention she was. She was worthy of every tiny bit of it of course.

And yet, my fascination with her was nothing to do with wanting to be like her. I was certainly not going to take up medicine as a career. And as for the rest, I was already very far from being anywhere like the person she was. She was just too perfect. I adored her. And not in a silly have-a-crush-on-her sort of way. I still don't know what it was, but I lit up everytime she was around. There were most certainly other people around who lavished more attention of me than she did, people who spoke to me more, entertained me... and yet, those few hours every month that she came around, they were incomparable. Being around her was feeling happy like never before... as if I had been blessed with the chance to see the brightest, most beautiful star at close quarters and my hands had managed to retain some stardust.

That was then. I've met her a few times after... she lives in a temple city, has a cute and naughty young boy she mothers with the right amount of attention and stop-in-your-tracks stares, has a successful practice and has opened a hospital... I'm always happy to see her. And yet, it's not the same. She's still the same, just has more grown-up things to do and has moved on of course. She treats me about the same... But I have grown up.

And I am now in the place I placed her. For years, a certain cousin has been giving me the same sort of attention that I gave to my older cousin. It was always so flattering, specially considering how everyone else only seemed to notice the unseemly in me. It was flattering to think someone looks up to me. She started calling me 'Barbie' years ago saying I looked so doll-like (Yes K, someone else gave me that name years befire you :P)... and my response was to call her 'Kelly' after Barbie's little sis. My Kelly is 16 now, all grown up and yet to bloom, and breathtakingly beautiful. We feel tongue-tied around each-other... conversation being restricted to smiles... and stealing glances when we think the other isn't looking. God she is SO beautiful!! We went into a coffee-shop and a lad no older than her was already giving her interested appraising looks! It breaks my heart... it breaks my heart because I am fond of her, but not so close that I can be a beacon. I'm sad wondering if she no longer thinks am worthy of her idolisation. I wonder what changes she saw in me. I would dearly love to be an elder sis to her, but I don't want her to be like me one bit... I don't think am worthy of being her idol. God she's beautiful!!

It makes me wonder what she sees in me... or saw in me. It also makes me wonder what I saw in my other cousin. It's not about regretting's more trying to define what there was. It's a bittersweet feeling now... cherishing what I had, mourning what I don't anymore... Pride at being chosen to be her heroine, pride at seeing her grow up... sadness at losing that feeling, sadness at losing that connection.

*There are exactly two other women who I think come that close to being truly beautiful and I haven't met one... no, not Aishwarya Rai. Remember Neerja Bhanot? The airhostess who was killed trying to battle hijackers? Her. Pity she died before I was born.


  1. Hmm...(smiles) Yes it seems that feeling is strong and still somewhat surprisingly so less talked about! Come to think of it, it isn’t such an obvious fact that we do tend to depend much of the shaping of our identity on our elders and our idols, much of it done with our own honest intention. In psychology study idolising is referred to mere means for brain to establish our own thought patterns it sees fit. What I do mean to say is that it is such an important part of our lives to be a hero of sort for our younger siblings that it feels something missing inside you. I dread the day when I will no longer be a guidance to my sister (no wonder I take all her healthy pummels bravely, Ouch!!! still hurts).

    But when people don't find their imagined stars in their elder siblings or parents for that matter, many unfortunately go through their journey with a bit sourness and ruptured identity!

  2. Anonymous10:37 AM

    It was a pleasant surprise that you mentioned Neerja Bhanot. Not many from our generation (I take it you are in your early 20s)would care to remember the gutsy gal. She's beautiful indeed!

  3. aah yes i remember my niece from when she was barely 3 yrs old to now when she's hitting 10...

    from being comfy in my giving high acting like a big girl...

    as beautiful as lil birdies may be they must open their wings and precious as time may be...its only when it moves that cherishable memories are formed....

  4. I indulged in idol worship too as a kid .. Though the admiration has faded over time to be replaced with a strong sense of respect for the other person while I am now happy being myself and not aspiring to be like someone else.. Unless, of course, I am heavily depressed :D

  5. Well said. Does it ever go away? I think I have lived with some form of this my whole life. I guess I just give it a different label. Perhaps it's more of a fleeting thing as you age but I do find myself thinking back on certain people who positively influenced my life like your cousin. They leave an indelible impression.

  6. Zephyr: I wasn't actually referring to that kind of idolisation but I see your point about it being a psychological thing, a real-life version of carrying out virtual makeovers on digtised photos just to see what suits us best :)And yet, when it comes to siblings, even when the curtain falls off and the truth is revealed, what existed before doesn't cease to exist. That's the beauty of such relations.

    Anonymous: I am full of surprises, I am! :D Neerja Bhanot seems just so perfect! Beautiful, gutsy, full of character and immortalised thus. I'm glad you said she 'is' beautiful rather than 'she was'... she most certainly IS!

    Mystique Wanderer: True that, specially if life's worth were to be measured in the amount of memories gathered :)Thanks for visiting!

    Impulsively Me: That's the beauty of growing up, isn't it? Being your own person and liking that person... bouts of depression only serve to highlight happiness in other times!

    Romi: Thank you! I guess this is what I would call immortality, leaving an indelible impression on someone, rather than being famous and in the pages of some periodical. Of course, it is an immortality that is limited to one person's life and memories... but better that, better having been such a huge part of one person's life even if it was short, than being well-known for being well-known without leaving a lasting impression of anything concrete. Thank you very much for dropping by!

  7. Hey there - nice space.

    You have a way with words. Sweet !

    I have had girl-crushes too, especially in college as a junior, looking at some of those ( well, two of them to be specific) peacock-like amazingly beauteous, charming and intelligent senior girls.I guess I did become one of them when I reached my final year, since there were juniors looking up to me by then :-)

    Life does come a full circle !

    Neerja Bhanot - She is worth all the fan following ( incluce me too).How truely beautiful and damn brave of a woman!

  8. Thanks for dropping by!!!

    I still don't know if I'd term that a 'girl-crush'... but it's definitely flattering when you receive such attention :)

    Neerja Bhanot was something else... maybe I ought to have been named after her... hmmmm