I share a very ‘blink and you miss’ relationship with my Brother. In the sense that the love we have for each other is mostly just unexpressed, dormant. Rarely have we witnessed expositions of love, so much so that sometimes our own parents have thought us indifferent to each other. But we know we’re like Mt. Vesuvius. We lay dormant until it explodes and out comes all the pent up feelings and emotions in that one giant avowal of love.
Calling each other names and ribbing was a daily thing, but we have even had fights, fist fights and torn each other’s hair and gums out (I’m not joking). A tussle on the day of Rakhshabandhan was a MUST! A yearly gigantic fight was a must too when we’d fight sooooo bad that our bruised egos would refuse to even acknowledge the other as a sibling. It would go on for days and then taper out. Then we’d be back at it. It was cyclical… and fun!
So, we aren’t the kind of people who emote much, except if we’re angry. We had always relied on our actions to speak for the strength of our bond. Like the time when I talked down a guy in his class for pestering him (I was the cocky older sister, you see), or the time when I smacked a guy on the head because he made fun of him. Or the time when he rebuked one of his friends for catcalling at me (in guy-parlance eyeing another’s sister is a taboo so this was a big deal for him, though in his friend’s defence, the poor bloke wasn’t aware that we were brother-sister).
But there was one moment we shared that lingers fondly in my mind like a cup of cappuccino on a cold sunny morning.
I had been accepted into Law School in another city and was in the process of packing. My brother must have been 14-15 years at the time. we had always fought about our share of space in the room, how exactly to play the boombox (we didn’t have CD players back then), how not to read my books or touch my side of the study-table. Oh! it was endless, this homebound parochialism. But of course it would come to an end when I left for Law School because the room would be his realm alone. I was abdicating and decamping to a faraway land. So he was happy. He taunted me about how he would ruin my cupboard, make squiggles on my side of the room, read and trash my books AND sleep on my bed, not his own (this one got to me because I am a bit obsessed with maintaining a clean bed). So after having another holler-fest, we settled down at the edge of my bed and were cooling off, when he starts, “So you’re leaving, huh?”
“Yes, it does look like it” , I retorted, obviously still irritated with him.
He mulled over that for sometime, and then squeaks, “But then who am I gonna fight with? Who’s hair will I pull if you go away?”
I. Was. Stunned!
I told you expositions of love was never a thing between us. And this confession was as much a revelation for me as it was for him. I just kept looking at him, tongue-tied. What was I supposed to say? We never even said thank-you’s or sorries to each other! Our relationship was…well, gruff. So I was just sitting there and he would steal a glance at me sometimes because he knew just how awkward that statement was.
And then that moment just passed, without me saying anything to him.
Now I kick myself for never saying “Aw! It’ll be okay. I’ll be back for vacations”, or “you can write to me”, or even something as corny, but relevant like, “I love you brother”, because now I’ve come to realise that sometimes the corny isn’t corny… It’s sweet, heart-felt and conveys to the other that he/she means a lot to you. That isn’t a bad thing. That’s how relationships should be.
That moment never came back in our lives. We just kept drifting further apart. Now we are busy in our own lives – he with his job, me with home and my daughter. Our meetings have reduced to a day or two in the year because he and I are in different cities. Naturally, expression of sibling love never gets a chance beyond a ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ hug.
But today is his birthday. And I have another excuse to express my love for him and offer my gratitude to him for always having my back. And this time, I won’t let it go unsaid…
(These two puppies accurately depict how we have always behaved with each other)
Thank you for always being there for me,
For being who you are with me,
For always showing me the mirror when I got snooty.
Thank you for the fun times and the bad,
Thank you for cheering me up when I was mad,
Thank you for always having my back,
I Love You, Brother Dearest!!
(P.S. – Don’t rib me later for being corny here.)
©Pradita Kapahi, 2016
Picture Sources: http://www.pinterest.com and www.theindevz.com