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  • This is a photograph taken of my cousin and I on the 3rd of December, 1990 in Calcutta, India. The date is significant, it was our birthday. I was turning 3, he was turning 5. His father, my uncle, is also born on the 3rd of December. We used to be a trio. I always had to share my birthday, but it actually made me feel more special than having it all for myself.

    The last time I saw him was around the end of March, 2000 in Mayapur, India.
    Picture this:

    It is evening time. We are outside in the oval-shaped park which is encircled by brick houses.

    I am twelve. He is fourteen.

    He is going to Australia. I don't know when I will ever see him again. Most of our friends have said their goodbyes and many of them have already gone home.

    I don't want to say goodbye. I don't want to have my birthday all to myself. But there's nothing I can do about it. He is saying goodbye now. We hug.

    Someone shouts. It's a man. An American dressed in a dhoti and kurta, his head is shaved save for a clump of hair on the back of his head, typical Hare Krishna style. I know him, he's a friend's dad. Something of a community leader. He's coming towards us. He's pulling us apart.

    "Stop necking!" He commands.

    I'm surprised. I don't know what necking is. But from the tone of his voice I know that we are being chastised.

    Suddenly, comprehension dawns.


    I don't remember what happened after that. All I remember is the feeling. This man, this man who is not even a family member, this man who has barely said a word to me my whole he accusing us of...?

    I think I might have defended us, "He's like my brother!"
    I think I might have tried to reason, "He's leaving! To another country! I don't know when I'll ever see him again!"
    I think I might have asked, "What's necking?"

    I don't know. I can't remember. But I remember the anger. I remember the shame. I remember that it hurt. We did nothing wrong but he made us feel bad. Some fanatical Hare Krishna guy just got this sick idea in his head and decided he had to spring on us. He infected us. We were fine until he transferred it into our fragile adolescent minds.

    Later, I complained to my mother about it. She was upset. I think she may have even said something to the jackass the next day. But it was too late. It was ruined. He didn't just rain on the parade, he pissed all over it. It still stinks.

    I guess now, 12 years later, it shouldn't matter anymore. But that was the last time I saw my uncle and my cousin. It can't, won't, refuses to be forgotten. Whenever I remember them, I remember that too.
    Thanks, psycho. Thanks a lot.
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