Melanie Ramadhin (nee Singh)
…is my cousin who I hadn’t met until the late 1990’s. Our fathers were always close, & as fate would have it, Melanie & I were also bonded in blood & in spirit. It’s hard not to instantly like her: she’s sweet, affectionate, & she welcomed me the night I stepped into her family house in Mississauga, Canada, with open arms & curry chicken. We both understand the values of love, family, & good conversation: we can talk for hours, even till morning! She has this beautiful ability of accepting people for who they are. We share many fun memories of some of the best years of my “single life,” which I call “the Canadian years,” romping around in malls, at Caribana, Sega City,& rocking out to the “illest” (that’s a 90’s word) mixed tapes. Once back in NY, I’d remain tight with my newfound cous, chatting every day on AOL. It was a great feeling. My brothers were equally close to her brothers, so it was one big party. Mel & I understand one another deeply because we came from similar beginnings. I’m glad she’s by my side on this day & that no matter what life brings, we’ll always be bonded.
Shereeda Edwards (nee Maragh)
…When i first met Shereeds at Hillcrest High School, I didn’t believe she was Jamaican until she showed me her passport one day. We enjoyed the best of mischief and the worst of growing pains together. Our lives were filled with the sounds of laughter, dancehall music, & the clinging of doorknocker earrings as we “bogled” & “butterflied.” Others have come & gone in our lives but we still remain, holding one another’s memories & secrets close to our hearts. Since my mom was scarier than hers, I didn’t stray too far, so Shereeda was the one who did all the growing up before me (moving out, having kids, getting married), then told me what it was like. She even taught me how to make rice & peas. I’m thankful for her courage, understanding, & straightforward advice. And with her knack for creating warmth & comfort- who better to have by your side?
Michelle Kabse (nee Jagernauth)
…is that person who changes your life the moment you meet her. She taught me a lot about the value of friendship and compromise, so Peter should thank her, too! We met in grad school when I had an eyebrow ring and never went out of my way to talk to anyone. She warmed my heart with her charming smile & intellectual mind, & pretty soon we were studying in Rosenthal Library (Queens College), discussing life, love, & Victorian literature. Our friendship quickly spilled over to weekend parties and women-only gatherings, where we managed to swap recipes and philosophical inquiries on love that could’ve come straight from Carrie Bradshaw’s laptop, & yet still emerge as feminists, each in our own unique way. I love Michelle dearly because she always wishes the best for everyone, & I suspect she may have even secretly prayed for me at one time or another.
Nicole Lynch (nee Palapoli)
…is my platonic soulmate. We were introduced by Michelle at a holiday party and realized that we had so much in common. We immediately became gym buddies who shared a lot of the same ideas and interests such as creating art (me with theatre & screenwriting, Nicole with painting/illustration) staying active, being close to nature, dancing, other cultures, & exploring holistic and spiritual ways of life. Her down-to-earth & honest outlook makes her easy to talk to & confide in. I don’t know what I would’ve done without her at certain points in my life. We’ve seen each other transform greatly over the last few years, & I’m happy at where we ended up so far. She’ll always be one of my besties, no matter how busy we become or who else may have come into our lives. Nicole & I have an uncanny ability to understand & respect one another very deeply- it’s like a secret Virgo communication, and I feel like whenever one of us wins at something, so does the other, because we sort of planted our wishes together.
Sabera Nisha Singh (nee Beg)
…came into my life by way of my younger brother, Mitra, who became her husband. For the record, I knew they’d get married. But what I didn’t know was how much a part of my life and my family she’d become. This was exciting for me, a sisterless bride-to-be, because like a real sister-in-law, she and my mom & brother went shopping with me, braving the cold, sifting through dresses with me, & playing critic. That’s when I realized that it would always be like this- doing family things together, & we’d grow as sister-in-laws, past memories, maybe a few kids, & fly dresses.
…is the first girl cousin I’ve ever known & loved. I recognized as kids that she was not only beautiful but also strong & special, because her personality warms every room that she stepped into, & she never stays down for long. Whether she knows it or not, she’s probably influenced many other women around her to be just as fearless & positive. She makes everything fun with her loud and mischievous humor.I treasure the way our cousinhood flowed into being friends on our own, & all the good times we spent throughout the years, at parties, fetes, & getting in & out of wutlessness. I can truly say that we have a special karmic connection, & we’ve got each other’s backs throughout the thick & thin.
…is one of my most admired cousins. She’s always been unusually mature- & talented- for her age. I am very proud of her because she represents positively for the entire familia. (I get besides myself showing off about these powerful Singh women.) She might be around a lot of dead bodies (she’s a mortician), but she’s got this really strong life force within her. Since Maya makes real efforts to stay in touch with her culture it means that family is just as important, & I love that about her. She always knows what to invest in, like the true entrepreneur that she is. Smart AND beautiful!
…my goddaughter, is my cousin Michael & cousin-in-law Sharda’s daughter. She is 4 years old & has already shown herself to be intelligent, beautiful, & independent. She is fun to play with because she makes great jokes, laughs, & likes to lead & organize others. Alyssa loves physical activity, reading (especially about the Disney princesses- though this may change for a new trend later), art, music, posing for the camera, & is very affectionate, which is my favorite thing about her. I’m so proud to be able to claim her as my goddaughter.
…is one of my best friend Shereeda’s daughters. She was the first baby in my friends’ circle, & I remember going to visit her in the hospital when she had just been born. Her presence really awakened me to the grownup life. Kyan is strikingly intelligent, inquisitive, & very daring, dabbling in sports such as rollerblading, swimming, & skateboarding. She is an avid reader and a great sister who loves protecting others and teaching her younger sibling Jayna new things. She is somewhere in-between a junior bridesmaid & flower girl, just as Kyan’s beautiful mind is sophisticated beyond her years. She is pictured here with her home skillet, younger sister Jayna.
…is my Big Bhoujie who will sit by my side for the Hindu wedding. Although she’s two years my junior, she passed through this journey several years ago when she walked around the fire with my cousin Michael. I deeply respect her perseverance as a young woman who had not too long ago migrated from Guyana and within a few years, began to achieve the American Dream of higher education, a beautiful home, & wonderful family. Everyone who meets Sharda remarks about her warmth & charm, & her kindness is not to be taken for weakness, because she is strong, determined, & fights for what she wants. I have quietly learned a lot from her about relationships, life building, & challenging tradition when it encroaches on individualism. Sharda is definitely a soft rose with its protective thorns. And a really wonderful laugh.