My brother is seven years younger to me. As a little girl, no one waited for him like I did. No one.. not even my poor mother who carried him for 9 months. Every time my mother came back from her regular checkups, I went straight to her bedroom and searched both sides of my mother. ‘Mommies always bring babies from the hospital,’ my little mind thought. I used to pace around my mother’s bed, I used to be in a constant state of worry - ‘Where is my brother?’ There were days I blamed my mother, ‘She must be late and they closed the hospital.’ Maybe, she didn’t like the babies available. Ok, let’s wait till they update the stock! Trust me, it was very taxing to work through my emotions.
But my worst memory of my kid brother popping in this world was when I saw my mother lying on the bed and a strange thought came to my mind - we kept new things in the storeroom adjacent to the bedroom and I thought, maybe, my mother kept the new baby on her woolen trunk. Oh boy! What if he falls off? My mother has no sense - New babies should be handled with care!... I thought. I ran into the storeroom and found nothing. I can’t tell you, how relieved I was. Thank God! But I gave a good stare to my mother as I passed by her that day.
Days went by and mommy didn’t bring my brother home. I was disturbed, I wanted him to arrive before my birthday in December. I wanted to show him off to my friends. You see, I always had the sole ownership of everything new in my home. And, I loved to flaunt. The waiting was taking a toll on my emotional health. But thankfully, a neighborhood wedding acted as a stress buster. I was all perky and excited about it. I went into great lengths to be the center of attraction. I bought a new dress, stood in front on ‘ribbon-cutting’ ceremony. My little heart needed a break from the stress of baby arrival and I wanted to enjoy every bit of it. The wedding was great, I got 20 rupees as my share from the Joota Chupai ceremony. Later that night, when we were watching a movie on the VCR, my father came and asked me to get up. What, leave the movie?!? He told me that I am a big sister now... but I was not at all excited. In fact, I cursed baby’s sense of timing. I preferred afternoon when I came back from school or in the evening. Gosh, there was no ‘Baby Home Delivery’ service too!
Half-heartedly I went to the hospital. My aunt was super excited, as if she got three stars in her Maths homework. She took me into the room, my mother was lying there, but there was no baby by her side. What, still no baby! Then, she pointed in one direction. He was in the crib. I looked at him, he was the most precious thing I ever saw. He was an angel. He still is. His eyes were closed, but the moment he opened them, my little self was confused. It was a happy confusion. I was happy... but why was I not laughing? I was not sad… then why my eyes were wet? I wanted to hold him... but my hands didn’t move? I was at a loss - later I came to know that’s what babies bring - a sea of emotions, too difficult to comprehend for a seven year old.
When I went back home, I gave my sleeping mother a dirty look. The only thing I wanted to say to her - Woman, keep the baby by your side. Mommies are supposed to do that!
So, my brother arrived 15 days before my birthday and I felt like a movie star. I had a ‘Brand New Brother’ and I distributed two Melody toffees, one pencil, one rubber and a chewing gum to my class. It was the best birthday distribution ever in our school. But sadly, my evil mother didn’t allow me to give Melody to my brother. ‘He is a baby,’ she said. Like I didn’t know. Hell, she didn’t know - ‘I don’t want Melody, no kid ever said!’
Finally, by mommy's side on their Vaishno Devi trip
* * *
P. S. - A gift to my brother on this Raksha Bandhan... as, there is no better gift than gift of words.