Much of my memory starts when I was three years old, but there is one piece of memory I recall from the time when I was two. That summer, my eldest cousin visited my family in our half-dilapidated apartment for the first time. My cousin used to live in my grandmother’s house, and I had already met her several times while visiting my grandmother. Being a young school teacher, my cousin was very good with little kids, and I was already quite attached to her when she visited us in my hometown.
Near my hometown, there is a very famous tourist spot called Matsushima, a small coastal town known for its beautiful scenery. Coincidentally, one of my mother’s cousins was visiting there when my cousin was staying with us. So, one day, my parents arranged a daytrip to Matsushima so that we could all meet up and take our two guests on a local tour.
Being two years old, I had no idea what was being planned. I sat on the backseat of our car with my cousin thinking that the four of us would go on a drive. My favourite cassette tape of English songs was playing and I was feeling quite happy when my mother suddenly pulled up the car. There was a stranger woman standing outside, smiling and waving at us. I had never seen this person before. I thought to myself how strange it was that she was waving at us as if she knew us.
Then something unexpected happened. To my bewilderment, this stranger woman climbed into our car, right next to me and my cousin. I was so upset to have a stranger in the car that I started to cry. Little did I know that this person was my mother’s cousin.
Everybody in the car tried to console me without much success. It was my cousin who rescued me from the discomfort. She picked me up, made me sit on her lap, and said to me,
“There’s nothing to worry, hon. You’re just a little surprised. Everything is okay.”
Just then, my favourite song started to play in the background.
“Hey, listen, hon,” my cousin continued talking. “They’re singing ‘sing along, sing along.’ Do you hear that?”
I stopped crying. I listened to the song while my cousin rocked me on her lap.
“Sing along, sing along,” sang my cousin to the song.
Soon, I felt safe again and started to smile.
That’s all I remember from that day. Because of the shock of the unexpected encounter with a perceived stranger and the depth of comfort brought by my cousin’s kindness, the moment has found a special spot in my memory.