My Eldest Cousin M

Been thinking a lot about my cousin M lately. To be accurate, he’s never left my mind.

After he passed away in his sleep in 1995 (he was only 37 years old and it was attributed to an epileptic fit) he would appear in my dreams often.

Usually when I was stressed out he would always appear as my protector and the nightmare would turn into a pleasant dream.

I feel a bit sad that my younger cousins didn’t get to know him better. When he was still his cheerful self and not too afflicted by the trials and harshness of a society, that I feel, didn’t give him enough support or credit. I would love to hear more about their experiences with him one day, but mostly when I ask they don’t seem to remember him as much.

I feel like cousin M is my kindred spirit, although he’s 12 years and 10 months my senior.

I never realised he was deaf till I was in my twenties. Back then no one talked openly about disabilities and he didn’t even have a hearing aid. And he lip read so well.

My youngest cousin G is 27 years younger and she could have introduced him to sign language and the deaf community or if he desired, options like cochlear implants or good quality hearing aids. He would have been her best friend for sure, if not for the huge age gap.

My mum said he was a brilliant kid, but sadly after contracting meningitis at age 12, he had a high fever and it left him with various medical issues, including the deafness. He also suffered from epilepsy and wore coke bottle thick glasses.

I always felt so bad for him as he was obviously super intelligent, but back then there wasn’t enough support for him to pursue his higher education. I feel like that was a huge loss of potential. I also felt he was ostracised and he was definitely overqualified for the factory job he did and could not fully utilise that mind of his.

Naturally he would be enraged, depressed and towards the end, developed paranoia (undiagnosed), as evidenced in his remarkably written journals.

He truly inspires me to be a better writer as it may be in the genes. He’s my double cousin after all and I’m proud of that fact.

His parents are first cousins, which was common back in the day so that the wealth stays in the family and also because we are a pretty ethnocentric community.

I didn’t know this till I was in my late teens too. I didn’t know that my uncle would have been my uncle whether he married my aunt or not. Uncle P was my grandfather’s sister’s son. Medical issues naturally result with the smaller gene pool.

I was always so fond of M Annah (Annah means big brother and all my cousin brothers are the brothers I never had but longed for) and he very much doted on me. I’m just so grateful for him in my life.

Once he even gave me what seemed like his whole stamp collection when he knew I was into collecting stamps. He was very generous indeed.

He liked to tease me whenever I came over, but in a very gentle sweet way, like asking me if I came by plane or by bus, and when I would say “Nooo” he would ask did you drive? using hand gestures to show the driving motion. He made me giggle. And it was our usual routine.

I loved playing board games with him when I was about 4 or 5 years old. Carrom, 7 Diamonds and so forth. He was extremely patient with me and probably let me win.

I will never forget the time I asked him to carry me and he lifted me and spun me around high up. So fast that the spinning ceiling fan above me stood still. He was so tall. The tallest amongst all the cousins. It was so fun and I didn’t want him to stop, but his mother scolded him, worried he’d drop me and sadly my ride ended. “M! Put her down” she cried “Don’t stop” I said in my 4 year old heart.

About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore & recently cancer too.
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