Bhaai August 23, 2010

Raksha Bandhan1.jpgThe first thing I asked when I saw him was, Maa, is bhai a boy or a girl? I was disappointed that he didn’t look like a doll I was expecting. He was thin, gangly and cried all the time.

Even though he was my long-awaited sibling, I just couldn’t get myself to love him. In one stroke, he had taken away all the attention from me. All of a sudden, my Maa and Baba were just not mine anymore. I was expected to share their love – God, I so resented it.

He was a bright naughty baby, hopelessly attached to his working Mum. Every morning when she left for work, he would cry his heart out. It broke her heart to leave her baby behind. We had a procession of maids, hired to take care of him. Most of them were characters, though a few of them did love him.

When he was two, I made him drink an entire bottle of Amritdharaa. It used to be a tiny bottle, a drop of it in a glass of water was meant to cure nausea. He vomited non-stop. I stood quietly behind the door, a little guilty, a little scared, watching my befuddled Mum take care of him. Years later, when my sis-in-law (his wife) told me how she tried to smother her li’l sis with a pillow, I almost hugged her in relief.

We used to have a large window in living room, overlooking the street below. The window was his favourite hangout zone and he would often send stuff from our house flying down. The passersby’s would look up in surprise, while I would go running down to retrieve our lost treasures.

He was and still is extremely sensitive. He loved to sketch and had a special fascination for my nose. We loved to make fun of each other and I always won hands down. My victory would not go down well with him and he would react with rage. Both of us would go running all around the house, toppling furniture, me letting out a scream that would put even a banshee to shame and would end up in fistfights. His sister, six and a half years older to him would get beaten up. But I had my sweet ways of getting back at him. I think it was his 11th birthday, his best friend Mithu had gifted him a large box of mint chocolates. The boys were busy partying in living room. I opened the box and popped into my mouth the most divine chocolate I had ever tasted. I would run to the drawing room, pep up the boys and run back to the bedroom and devour handfuls of those wickedly delicious things. By the end of the party I had finished the entire box. Needless to say, he was furious and attempted to kill me.

So imagine my surprise, when I see him sobbing helplessly at the eve of my bidaai. There I was, an excited bride, with dreams in my eyes and I see him filled with anguish. Wait, this was not supposed to happen, wasn’t he supposed to feel overjoyed that he will finally get our room to himself, get all my lovingly collected books, the cupboard, not having to fight over the music system? It took me 22 years to realize that my brother actually loved me.

It’s been nineteen years of separation. He is married now and his demanding job keeps him terribly busy. But I still think of his breaking into an impromptu, joyful hippo the pota pota mus mus mus rendition at the first sighting of the majestic animal at the Bangalore zoo, and it makes me smile. All those action movies he made me watch, how we used to gang up to play pranks on others. Why, we even ganged up and made my then fiancé the subject of our pranks. He was far from amused.

We are different as chalk and cheese, he will insist he is the cheese. He never tires of calling me fat (even though am far from that) and loves regaling my daughter with stories of my misdemeanours. He conveniently forgets to tell her how I fought with Maa to jack-up in his monthly allowance and loved pampering him silly when I started working. He is now father to the most adorable baby on Earth. Gia never drools and rarely cries. Her eyes light up when she sees her dad, but I think she will grow up to be her Mama’s girl.

This Raksha Bandhan, we might not meet and just text each other our wishes. As such, we hardly keep in touch and he NEVER reads my blog, his wife does. Yet, I have tears in my eyes as I write this story of a brother and sister who never need to spell out their emotions yet feel close to each mother. Maa, you needn’t worry about us growing apart.

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