So finally the day arrived. I had to say goodbye.
My dad woke me up with a knock on my door, to ask for a marker to write his initials on the three huge suitcases that contained all his belongings. I searched for a marker and handed it to Dad, not wanting to see his face before he left. ‘It would be less painful this way’, I reasoned. I went and lied on my bed and the thoughts that had ceased before sleep took me, came running back. I woke up. I couldn’t sleep. How could I? My brother was going away.
We were not your ideal ‘Raksha Bandhan and there’s so much love between us’ kind of siblings. In fact we were more like, ‘Don’t annoy me or I’ll kill you’ kind of siblings. He annoyed me and I ran after him with a remote in my hand to hit him on the head. He called me stupid names and I half cried – half cursed him for the remaining of the day. He pulled my leg and I pulled his. The surprising thing is that we never spoke to each other as two normal people would – we replied to other’s question with as much sarcasm as we could muster in one response. It was not the best of a sibling relationship, but it was the one we both were given. And boy, do I miss it.
He avoided looking at me and so did I. We both knew that the first one of us to cry or shed a tear would have to bear the ridicules of the family for as long as we lived. They would say, ‘Now you cry! You always fought and now you cry!’ or they would say, ‘I told you you would get emotional. Ha ha’ . So we looked away. But finally, as a token of our last sarcasm tradition, he told me in his warning tone “Don’t hurt yourself and don’t carry that bag like that. You’ll break it” and I replied, “That’s what I am planning to do, as a matter of fact”.
We never said it, but we knew that we would always be there for each other, no matter what the situation. Sometimes our fights would get so aggressive that we would end up saying the most regretful things to each other. I would always be the one who would get upset and stop conversing all together and he would always be the one who would apologise. As a way of apologising, he would offer me a cup of tea and without a word leave it at my desk, where I would be studying. And boy, will I miss his ‘you put too much ginger in this! But I have to study so I’ll have it’ tea.
As he stood at the doorway, it hit me that we will never live in the same house , together, ever again. The past 20 years passed me by as I stood in the doorway. It felt like it was only a minute ago, we three kids had come running through the door and had claimed our rooms like we were sent on a war. Three lonely kids, moving into an abandoned area with no one to talk to except each other. Three lonely kids who only had each other. It really felt as if it was just yesterday that I was fighting with him over the remote and today, here I was telling him ‘Goodbye Brother. I hope you make a good life for yourself’.
Mom asked him, “Have you taken everything you will need?”
He replied, “Yes, I have everything”
And instead of saying ‘take care of yourself, don’t act without thinking, be nice and polite’ , I asked him, “Did you take your brain?”
And he replied with something equally immature.
Finally, as his trunks were loaded in the car and Dad asked him to get in or he’ll end up missing the flight, he looked back at us- my mother and me. Finally our eyes met for the first time that morning and I felt his said, “So I guess this is goodbye?” I didn’t look away and replied with my own eyes, “Yeah I guess this is goodbye” and instead of giving him a hug and a peck on the cheek, which my heart ached to do, I raised my hand in a wave and silently said, “If I could do it all over again, I would still want you and only you as my big brother”.
He turned before I could see him cry and walked to the car and composed himself as subtly as he could, then he looked back at us and gave us a final wave. We waved back.
As we three walked back into the house, a house that always felt ‘so small’ to me, now appeared too big to me – for the first time in my entire life.
P.S- I just spoke to him over the phone. He has landed safely and is ready to begin a new chapter of his life. He told me when I asked him what he will do now, ” I will go and have a cake” and I told him “Don’t eat too much. You’re already very fat”
P.P.S – He’s not.