(Originally Dated 25th May 2010)
2 Decades ago, around this time, I was being shepherded into a small ward in Shankarambal nursing home near
This is more or less what I remember of this day, 20 years ago, when Faiz, my younger brother hatched.
I say hatched, and not born, because as one of our favourite uncles (Dad’s friend) described him at birth, "he was like a Baby Chicken hatchling", hairless and shrivelled and so white that he was pink (if you know what I mean)
First few months, I remember not being allowed to lift him coz apparently he’d come with a dismantled neck, which required 6 months to assemble itself. By the time he was 7 or 8 months old, he’d become pretty heavy to lift, so I guess its safe to say that I probably only cuddled him when he was asleep or in someone’s lap or in his favourite place, the hammock. I remember dad singing him to sleep, and mom having a couple of bottles ready for when he woke up with a shrill scream. I mean, the guy had a siren in his throat, more effective than most fire engine sirens, and its always been used for conveying one state of his being --- HUNGER!!! (This holds true even today ;))
As Faiz grew up, so did his cheeks and I could see that he was going to be the cute one, but at that age, I didn’t know what that meant, except that most of my cousin sisters preferred to cuddle him than me. I was losing the ladies (again, if u know what I mean) to my younger sibling.
The years passed with us playing games, me learning and teaching him quite a few, and he always winning them after learning from me. Although I must say, apart from chess, all the other games, he won by crying. I, being the elder one, was advised by my parents to concede to his whims. So in carom, I would pocket the coins, and it was payday for him. In cricket, he never got out, and he never bowled or fielded. In tennis, the ball was always IN. As of now, he'd prolly whip me in any game I guess...sigh, the changing times :P
Sadly our parents didn’t let us play boxing as a sport.
Needless to say, being the younger one, he was the more pampered one of the family. And he had a sharp tongue, yes sir, when he learnt to speak, he shut everyone else up. When my friends would tease me, he has taken it upon himself to get back at them, coz back then, I was as talkative as a boulder.So snappy comebacks were as much a part of me as morality is a part of our politicians.
I can proudly say that he alone is enough, to literally shut every relative of mine. If you ever are lucky enough to witness him taking on my entire extended family, in a battle of wits, you will probably see the wit-war equivalence of 1 man invading the Normandy coast and bringing the Nazi empire to an end. And No I am not exaggerating.
Sad part is, I am not allowed to let him loose upon them.
Btw, Faiz, if you’re reading this, you are not allowed to gloat. :P
As I said, he was the most pampered one, which made him quite a bit stubborn. Dad called him a Bengal Monitor once. (Google it)
The stubbornness got him in trouble with mom more than once. My mom believed in the idiom, “Jab Paap ka ghada bhar jaye, toh phoot jata hai” (When the Vessel of sin is filled, it will Break)
So Faiz & I, whenever we screwed up, it would register itself in mom’s head. She wouldn’t do anything except give us “The Eyes” (An eye stare that even makes her family members go “OH DEAR LORD HALP!!!”)
And getting the eyes meant 2 things
1. We’re Dead
2. But not today.
Coz the register was like a ticking time bomb, the more screw ups we did, the faster it ticked. Until one fine sunny day, the fuse would reach culmination, fizz and silence…………AND KABOOOOM !!!
Weapons included belts and hangars and rulers. And she would do the American Police thing, she would recite all our crimes as she whooped our sorry backsides. Things we’d have forgotten, she’d recall n go, “On so-n-so date, at so-n-so’s house party, you just HAD to touch the glass jar when I told you faiz NOT TO TOUCH the glass jar”. Before he could think “Which Glass jar??”, his ear would have been twisted like an old Fiat car key where the engine refuses to start.
First he’d scream and yell and beg mercy, and once the spank took place, I’d hear his tears break out. That was when my brain would scream, “INTERVENTION”.
And I’d run and stand between him and mom n go “Nooo mom Noooo he’s sorry he wont do it again.” I remember mom would try to hit him from around me, I’d feel him cringe behind me n hold my shirt as a human shield, and I’d get the whoop on my arm.
This always worked ;-) Atleast one way it did. Coz when I was getting whooped, Faiz would probably be hiding under the dining table or in the closet, thinking, “I hope she finishes with him and forgets what I did at last week’s party, else I’m dead too.”
He’s grown into a major Pain in the backside for people he likes and doesn’t like equally, into a funnyman who is the live wire of almost all of his social gatherings, and into a cuddly buddy for young kidos (which we both inherited from dad)
He also invented his own language, for more info on that, you should contact him, for I fear I will be killed for revealing it here. :P
If you don’t know yet, he is one helluva talented chef, and has surpassed his teacher (mom) in preparing the most amazing Grills you will taste.
His passion is Aeroplanes. Name a plane or a type of plane or a function related to it, and chances are he will talk to you about it for hours together.
He loves listening to stories. He was the first person who listened to my stories, and requested an encore every night. He is a person who seldom expresses his feelings...but if he really loves you, trust me you will know it.
As we grew up through our teens, I’ve seen him go from silly and childish to crazy and angry to calm and flamboyant in his ways. He’s still a Bengal monitor at times, but then...we all have our flaws.
Looking back now, those were some real crazy times I had with this li’l tyke. 11 years ago I left home to study and have been out since, so interaction with him has been limited, unlike most siblings. Yet we love each other to death. I remember the first time I felt really proud & sure of him was when he exhibited maturity beyond his years in 8th grade. Before that I just loved him, but after that, I’ve come to respect him too, in a way a younger sibling should be.
For those of you who have younger siblings, if you already dont respect them, start right now, trust me it makes a world of a difference.
I’ve lived a life where I’ve had friends walk in and out of life. Having a brother means having a friend who wont walk out on you, no matter what the circumstances. He is a shadow of mine who knows my darkest secrets and my deepest fears, and yet will not cease to love or respect me. He is a confidant I can share anything with. A partner in crime with whom I can plan to perform evil tortures on annoying people as well as pull of pranks on unsuspecting friends. He is that companion in boring parties, with whom I share amazing ROFLing moments with our inside jokes about everyone concerned.
He is a mirror image of me, opposite in almost every manner of being, yet someone I can love from the bottom of my heart for all his zaniness.
More than anything else, he is a 20 year old personality who fills the character gaps I have, someone without whom my parents would probably have half a son, someone who simply completes me.
Happy Birthday Li’l Brother…. BarakAllah Feek. May Allah Bless you with a long, prosperous and happy life in both this world and the next.
Love you !!