“Meri?, Meri khud ki?”
I screamed with joy when my cousin gave me my first ever good news. I was in Grade II when my younger sister was born. Those tender legs didn’t stop; I just ran a whole kilometer up the hill to the hospital. My happiness knew no bounds. More than anything it was the “mine” which pumped the adrenaline. On entering the ward, I didn’t even look at my parents; my eyes were looking for her. She was angelic, I remember me touching her to see if she was for real. The memory registered. At that pliable age of seven, I was more proud of having a “living doll” to play with while all my friends played with their plastic ones. I would touch her face at least one hundred times a day to make sure she was there; I even started changing wet diapers at that young an age. It was simply the purest of feelings.
Growing up with her in the beatific town of Mussoorie was blissful, just as my own child I wanted to teach her everything I knew. I started with “Ninja training”. Young boys have this obsession with martial arts, they want to be like the characters in cartoons, movies and comic books, and I had a trainee. Spending almost every possible minute with her gave us the opportunity to know so much about each other, she still does know the best and the worst of me, like no one will ever know. Happiness anger and all possible emotions were expressed with such ease and with no fear of being judged.
She was a devout “follower”, I was God to her.
She would ask questions in the strangest of ways proving her unsaid allegiance. On being asked by some relative one day,” beta, do you like to eat son-papdi?”, this angel comes running to me , with a mass of yellow sweat meat clutched in her little hand and blurts , “ bhai-ji, do I like to eat this, what should I tell mamiji?”. Her innocence and her unrelenting trust in me was simply unbearable at times. I said “go tell mamiji that you like it, but your bhaiji loves it,” she gave the entire thing to me and held my hand saying, “ when I grow up like you, I will also like it, then you can give some to me too.”. Children unknowingly act mean at times, just like I did by eating the entire thing. I have wept many a times, now thinking of it. She is such a darling.
“Bhaiji ‘repac’”, she came running to me shouting her lungs out. Scared, that maybe she had seen something scary and wanted to draw attention, I held her hand to go to the other room. I burst out laughing. The cry of excitement was to let me know that the television was airing the soap which I loved and the “RECAP” of the previous episode had just begun. I just could not stop laughing, and her face lost color, thinking that she had embarrassed her God and went into hiding. I hugged her till her sobs died out, and explained to her the reason. I was also her Data bank; I was always right for her. A few days back, while chatting on g-mail, another question was shot at me; I replied “try Google”, snap, came the reply, “it is still slower than you Bhaiji”. The confidence shown in me, still keeps me alive.
Certain Indian families have a custom of elders giving money to children when they, either come to your house for a visit or are leaving it after staying. My sister taught me a very lucrative lesson one day. Some relatives had come over to our house for the summer and were now leaving. I overheard her saying “No-No” and taking the money happily. She had made Rs. 500 that day and I was nowhere close. Upon asking her, she let out the “trade secret”, “Bhaiji, just say no a couple of times and let others see it and you will be rich”, and chuckled. We were now in business. The younger siblings are sharper than the elders, they see things in a very different perspective, they “learn” from their elder siblings’ mistakes. “I would make her my business partner”, I had thought.
Many such moments have been shared with her and many memories still keep both of us alive in this constant rat race which we have let ourselves into. The only door to some purity and innocence left in my life is her. Having left the house for undergraduate studies to a different city and then to a different country for a “better” future, I missed out on her growing up. Being an elder brother is such a big responsibility, it surpasses the “raksha” in the “bandhan”. Being able to protect, guide and love and yet not acting as a parent but a friend, is complicated. You want her to come home on time, yet provide her with the opportunities to have fun; to be able to guide your sibling in the right direction and yet doing insane things with her so that the insipid life becomes eventful. I have tried my best to be by her side in all of her endeavors, and will always do. Staying away from her has not been easy. Telephone calls, emails, chats, face books and other mediums of communications do not provide the “option” of hugging each other yet. I miss that. Miss the smile, the innocence and the sharpness of mind.
Though miles apart, and not having seen her in three years, it has been a unique privilege to know this amazing individual. I have no better friend, no better guide and no superior companion, than her. I wish those memories are relived once again and many more are created.
“Let this reach you when you need me the most, my love”
“Remember, I am always there for you.”
…………………………. waiting for a ‘REPAC’,