My brother, Anuj
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
As a five year old kid I stand by the side of the maternity bed. My mother just gifted me with a brother. So small, cute and vulnerable. She tells me to pick him up, I don’t. I am utterly scared even by the idea of it, what if he falls off my hand… I cannot hurt him. She says I just stood there and kept staring for long. And then when I came back to my senses, I was jumping around with ecstasy, completely oblivious of the fact that it was my birthday that day (something that a kid of five will never forget). Yes, that’s the biggest coincidence, we both share the same birthday. So, my brother, Anuj was there in shape. A premature birth, he was quite weak initially. Maa had strongly directed never to hurt him as that can be detrimental to his health. So I never did that. We just grew up together. He, like many other kids, started speaking quite late. Had various gestures for what he wanted to convey which more than my mother I could understand. I could understand all that he wanted to say with his little fingers and big mesmeric eyes. He was my darling. He gradually started learning to speak, more from me than anybody else in the family. And the tragedy he used to speak exactly the way I used to speak which we did not realize for quite a long time. Tragedy coz he started using verbs as jaati hun and khaati hun instead of the masculine form of it viz. jaata hun and khaata hun. So we had to unlearn him those words and then I had to speak jaata hun and khaata hun so that he picks up the correct form. He was a very reluctant school- goer. Unlike me who used to get up very early all pepped to go to the school he used to be dragged out of bed. And my mother used to have a tough time getting him dressed. Once she got so pissed-off that she just took him out of the bed and handed him to the School-bus driver with his uniforms and asked him to dress him up in the bus. Embarrassing, least for him but most for me, my brother going like that to the school. I childishly hid my face by a book wishing that it rubs the truth for a day that the half-naked boy in the bus is my brother. Then as time passed he managed to like the schools he went in. But for both us more than our school life it was our family life that we have enjoyed. We used to have fights every evening, part of playing actually. He used to instigate me to fight by snatching away the book I was reading or by seizing the pen I was writing with. Fights were the best ways for passing time for him as I was never the outdoor- games- types. Homework escaped. And I too used to enjoy it. Bed with the sheets totally destroyed, pillows squeezed and and the cushions hiding themselves to save a historic death. And then amidst all this din and bustle we suddenly heard maa’s foot-steps on the stairs approaching us… Baboo tighten the sheet, didi hand me the pillows, baboo do that , didi do this, we used to go crazy cleaning up the hour long mess in a jiffy. And when she finally came in she found me studying and Anuj pretending to be studying for long (hurriedly taking up the book I was reading). I cannot forget the numerous bets we made with the prize being a kiss to the winner by the looser. The number of kisses (ranging from 2 to 5 to 10 occasionally) used to vary depending on the level of difficulty of the bet. And getting a kiss was considered more royal then giving one so we used to die to be the winner. Most of the times I used to loose though. How can I forget that I had taught him the dance on the hit song of those days…jaati hun main, jaldi hai kya with he being the girl and I being the guy. Such loons we both were, gosh!! And the hundred times we have played ranna-baati (Bengali name for the game that you play with your dolls and prepare food and stuff for them). I then used to don the role of a proper housewife who used to teach the kids (dolls) and Anuj too and prepare food for them. Anuj used to get the vegetables from the market and used to go to the school religiously (queer enough) in that game as I guess he believed that the dolls would follow his foot-steps.
And if I did something deserving a thrash and Maa is shouting and beating me for it then I remember him crying for me and if she scolded him or hit him by any chance then I used to go and protect him. We have cried for each other. We have waited for each other to have evenings when we can have Maggi together on the terrace. And have waited for many more such precious times.
Bhai I miss you like hell here. I know those days cannot come back and all that I will get to spend with you now are mere short-vacations but then I am happy that I am blessed with a brother like you. All the fun and frolic we had together, I have written them down so that our kids get to read what their parents were as kids (God I feel so amma-ish ).