254/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’ll just say it – I hate being the oldest. All my life I have had to set the bar and through both conscious and subconscious pressure, I have set it very high so that my siblings and cousins had something to aspire for (or so I thought). So many times I wished that I had an older sibling or cousin who I could look to for guidance but unfortunately for me, I was the oldest. I have a sister two years younger than me. I have another sister 15 years my junior – yes, 15!! The cousins who were born in Canada and that I grew up with are 7 to 16 years younger than me. In my 30s, my mom’s sister’s family emigrated to Canada and along came a few more cousins. These ones were older but I was still oldest. It was contested that my cousin Gurmit who was born in the season of harvest was older according to my grandmother as she had heard about his birth in India and then recalls my birth in Canada but harvest season is probably after this Leo baby. However, I recall going to the motherland when I was 18 for four months – yes, when your parents take you out of school for a trip to India (and for me, it was out of university), it was for an entire semester! My mom took me to probably marry me off – LOL, I kid (although I was hot property back then and had a lot of offers – I didn’t want an ESL tag-along!!). So I was dragged along to countless homes and met cousins that I had heard about and finally, finally I was younger than two!! My dad’s niece Baljit – stunning beauty – was about 3 years my senior. She literally and figuratively took me under her shoulder and I let her. First time I let go and was able to be someone who had an older sibling (re-read my earlier post about cousins being sibling in Indo-Canadian culture). Although I was 19, she took care of me like her younger baby brother doting on me. I let it happen because I so wanted to look up to someone and let go of having to be the oldest and role model and whatever else came with it. A similar thing happened when I met my mom’s nephew Amarjit. Handsome and having the same stutter as me. Also 3 years my senior. He took me on his motorcycle to various sites and kept me within arm’s reach and looked out for his Canadian cousin whenever we were out in public as I didn’t really know what I was getting into. Although I only met them briefly that first time in India, they made an indelible impression on me that has been everlasting and they allowed me breathing time away from being role-model and just revel in the fact that I could be the younger one looking to my older siblings/cousins for guidance. I have never forgotten that trip and they will never know how comforting it was to have them for those 4 months and have an experience I longed for all my life for however brief it was. Thank you Baljit and Amarjit for being my older cousins and just making me feel that much more at ease and allowing me to be me without having to be an example for others.