My little brother.
The tiny bundle of jumpiness who always manages to get on my nerves, even when he’s more than 400 kilometers away.
I was about to be ten, and he was born. I remember every second that day; I’d come back from school late, and it was one of the many nights my mom had gone overnight to the hospital. I went to sleep, and I remember forgetting to turn on the AC.
When I woke up, at 5 the next morning, I opened my eyes, and my father was just sitting there at the edge of the bed, smiling widely at me. It never occurred to me how he didn’t bother to wake me up. The only thing I could see was the huge, crazy grin on his face, and that was when I knew.
I was too sleepy for poetry, so I simply asked, “Is he born?”
I found out that my Dad could grin even wider than he previously had.
After a lot of childish gushing from both sides, we hopped into the car and drove to Vijaya Hospital, where I saw him for the first time (excluding the vague UltraSonic images).
He was beautiful.
My dad told me that he was my brother. I was amazed at the new responsible feeling I got that day, and yeah, a bit of jealously that I wouldn’t be the only one anymore. But everyone assured me that I would never be left alone.
He was cute. Very, very cute. It was sad to see someone who was going to entirely depend on the people around him, for everything. He had fragile, smooth skin, that looked like it would dissolve on touching, barely formed bones, and a small, small mouth.
But soon, this new little guy lost his heavy impact on my life. He would just sleep, and do nothing else, and even when I tried poking him awake when he was asleep, my grandmother would shoo me away. I kept a large distance from him, looking up from my homework when he was brought out, stuff like that. And I didn’t really mind. Many of my relatives said that my parents were giving partiality to me, and not to him.
He started walking when he was just nine months old. He was crawling two months before that, and he was talking a lot when he was one. But the two of us always lacked that bond brothers and sisters were supposed to have.
I sometimes recall this one time I offered to lift him up in the living room, before he even started to crawl. He was so small, and I remember how happy I was, with the small, cute little thing in my arms.
Then I smiled, took a step, and slipped forward.
I don’t remember what happened when I fell, but in the end, I realized that I had spun around so that I would fall on my back, grasping onto him, and I was crying (honestly, I was) in fear that he was hurt. He simply giggled and hugged me back.
My parents were so happy that day. I guessed the shrill pain in my spine for two days after was worth it, after all.
When he was three years old, I joined a hostel and he went to Madurai to stay with my grandparents. He came to the hostel only like three times that year, and he would leave immediately, without saying a word, hugging me sometimes. I never really thought of him as my brother after the separation, and he was too young to realize that I was, in fact, his sister.
“Hug him.” My mother would say, her arms folded, standing in front of the girl’s hostel when he came to visit. I would roll my eyes and wrap my hands around him.
My friends would tell me that he seemed to love me more than I loved him. I would reply by asking them what time it was.
When he was four, and I was crossing fourteen, I found out that my brother was really, really smart. The girls in the hostel were delighted with him, his innocence, and his IQ.
I spent about two weeks with him during the tenth standard holidays. We didn’t talk that much, because I had no idea about what to talk to a four-year-old. We always fought for the remote. I would want to check out the movies playing on HBO, but he would want to see Tom & Jerry. :D
I always won over the fights we had, and he would scream and cry and run to my mother, if she was there, and she would snatch the remote from me and change the channel for him. If she wasn’t, I’d just leave him crying.
Then he went back to Madurai, and I went back to school. I never really thought about him, and if I did, it was because someone asked me about him.
The next time I saw my brother properly was about two months ago, during a cousin’s wedding. He’s six, now, and he’s grown much taller. I could tell he was really smart in the very first day. Sure, he did do a lot of naughty things, but a lot of them had a level of maturity that nobody would have expected from a person that young.
He asked cool questions about how things worked, and he had a SPECTACULAR memory. Tell him something today, and he’ll remember it the next time you asked him, whether it’s a month later, or a year later, or it’s the most unimportant thing on earth. Sometimes he acted as though he didn’t remember it, and then when you ask him a couple of more times, he would sigh and answer as if it was no big deal. He remembered what I liked, and what I didn’t like, and was sad to see that I couldn’t remember what his favorite cars were.
I never understood how I was the EXACT opposite in remembering things. Ask anyone. I’m a terrible person when it comes to remembering things.
Suddenly one day, my grandmother called me into a room when he was building a house out of Lego blocks. I looked at her, petrified about what she was going to say.
She told me that he had cried one day to her that I was never talking to him.
Imagining a six-year old say that hurt.
So I tried to talk to him as much as I could, but I didn’t know what to talk with a boy ten years younger than me. I think he was smart enough to understand that I had no idea what to do with him.
He left the next day.
I was looking at a couple of pictures of the two of us the other day, and I felt bad when I realized that he deserved to be treated special, and I had never bothered to show him that the small place I had in my heart for him even existed. I hadn’t treated him like I should have, and he left without realizing how terrible I was feeling.
Then he came again. Last month. My friends told me to act like a sister.
So I tried to act like one, and he started smiling, as if he could see how hard I was trying, and that seemed to open new doors for me. No one except him seemed to understand the tough time I had to talk with him, and that amazed me even more.
Then he took the boiled egg I was eating off my plate and ate it in one swift move, spoiling everything. But I guess that’s what brothers are for.
written on 10/2/11.