On a chilly night in December, a little star was born. She had tufts of black hair and a crooked smile, and even though she was as tiny as a speck of star in the night, the love we had for her couldn’t be measured by man-made units. In my head, I knew no science could prove or explain the cosmic connection between us.
I didn’t recognize her beauty that day, but I had a feeling that I would come to soon. Before we came to that, I had a long way to go. We had a whole journey to discover and un-discover.
The words ‘I love you’ were never muttered. If they ever were, it would only be to pacify Ma. When she’s around, there’s cordiality; when she leaves, there are fist fights. Amidst the wrestling matches and sword fights with weapons as plush as cushions, harsh words were exchanged, and vows were taken, ‘I’m never talking to you again!’
What followed were 2 whole hours of boredom coupled with guilt, and soon I felt the cosmic connection pulling me closer to a center, a grounding space, only to draw me back to her room and start a conversation as if nothing had ever happened.
Like when we watched TV together, I remember pointing to a wild boar on the screen, screaming, ‘oh my god, that looks just like you!’
Just to get back at me, you would discretely make your way to the fridge, right after Ma fed us a heavy lunch, to eat all the good chocolates, not because you were hungry, but because you wanted to eat them before I got a chance to.
While the rest of the world compared us to each other, we made our own comparisons of them: who do you think is more annoying, Aunty A or Aunty B? Who farts more, Uncle A or Aunty B?
I never voiced my appreciation and gratitude for her, but I knew she understood. The only time she did demand love and appreciation was on one day of the year. And what a day it was.
Only now, through the screen of my phone, from the eyes of another, an older, wiser, but still just as annoying brother, I talk to her, reminiscing the good times. We didn’t wish each other ‘Happy Rakhi’ or even ask ‘how are you?’ Without exchanging words, we could communicate to each other: I miss you, I wish you were here, Aunty B definitely farts more, and the good chocolates don’t taste the same when I don’t have to fight you for them.
But most importantly, I understood on another chilly December night, somewhere far away from home, that brotherhood really is finding ways to say ‘I love you’ without saying the words ‘I love you.’