Admiration to Reconnection

A Journey Through Time

Growing up, I always looked up to my older cousin, who was more like an older brother without the bossiness that usually comes with that role. Back in the 90s, he was abroad for his studies, and I could barely see him. When he visited home, I would wait eagerly, looking out from our balcony. Those moments of anticipation were pure excitement. Who hasn’t wrestled with their siblings or cousins during the Hulk Hogan days? We certainly did, and those memories are golden.

Fast forward a few years, and the internet arrived in our town. He took me to an internet cafe for the first time, somewhere in Clifton, where we chatted with strangers on IRC. Fun times! One day, my computer broke down, and as soon as he found out, he bought me a new one – multiple times, not just once. When Gmail, Orkut, and Facebook came around, I remember creating my accounts and then helping him set up his. Exploring the social media realm together was a blast, especially on Orkut – those were the days! I still laugh at how I used to beg him for a testimonial. It’s funny to think that I met my wife through him. She was a fan of his, and that's how we got introduced. Now, almost 20 years later, we have two kids together.

My cousin wasn’t just a fun companion; he was a mentor. He introduced me to digital artists, graphic designers, and animators to guide me as I explored a career in that field. He took me as an assistant to many of his shoots, parties, and concerts. While he was working, I would hang around, trying to soak in all the experience. After the shoots, we'd have deep conversations, often in and out of our senses after a few drinks.

When my parents moved to America and left me behind in Pakistan because they couldn’t take any more of me, he gave me a home. I stayed with him for months until I got my visa and immigrated. His place became my sanctuary, filled with learning and laughter. He had mentored me for years, leaving me with countless fond memories.

Then my life changed when I migrated to America, and maintaining contact became hard. We both got busy with our own troubles. We met three times over the past years, but it was very formal, and I was not in a good mental state. I stayed away from him, perhaps because I felt disappointed with my own struggles. I heard from others that he wasn’t too happy in his life either – different troubles, but some similarities. I was battling addiction and kept thinking about how he might be struggling too, feeling bad for both of us.

After my first trip to rehab, I talked to him. He downplayed the whole addiction topic, calling it nonsense, saying we are way too strong mentally that addiction cannot affect us as we can stop it anytime we want to. I was in a deep mental mess, and addiction made it worse. That stuck in my head, and after a relapse, I stayed away because I didn’t want him to see me like that.

I went to rehab twice, and now I’ve been sober for over two years. Recently, we started texting again, and he told me he wants to visit in August. I am beyond excited. It made me reflect on how many years have gone by, how we didn’t disconnect but stayed idle. Now, we’ll meet and hopefully get to talk about everything.

I considered him my mentor for so many years, and then we drifted apart – my fault. I couldn’t face him. Maybe that’s why I struggled, maybe because I didn’t have anyone to guide me. But now I am happy that Allah has given us another chance to make things right. There’s no undoing the past, but starting something new is always an option.

Life is unpredictable, and relationships are dynamic. We plan, we strive, but countless variables influence our paths. It’s about holding on to what’s important and being open to new experiences. Our relationships are what make us human, and we need to value them properly. In today’s world, it’s very easy to reach someone but harder to keep relationships going. I look forward to this new chapter with my cousin, my mentor, my brother. Here’s to starting over and making things right.

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