It is late in the afternoon, and my mom and I are stretched out on the couch in our living room. My mother is visiting, and we use this time to catch up, sharing things that we miss out on, when we talk on the phone.
Our conversation meanders through the lanes and bylanes of our lives, and we find ourselves reminiscing about the past.
My mom walks further down memory lane, and smiles wistfully, as she fondly remembers her childhood, especially her three brothers, two older and one younger.
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She shares pages from that time in her life, when she was a young girl with long braids and colourful ribbons.
Her older brothers would come home from college or work, and call out to my mom to help park their bicycles inside the compound. This was one of the highlights of her day. From her height, the cycles appeared enormous, and she would step on one pedal and push the bicycles inside.
My mom recalls how she was tasked with the job of picking up a Tamil weekly magazine from the small shop at the end of their street. This magazine was eagerly awaited every week, and all the siblings devoured it with fervour. My mom knew that once the magazine went to her brothers, she would not get to read it for a couple of days at least. So, right after she picked up the magazine, she would sit in the verandah of her neighbour’s home, and quickly read her favourite sections, which included jokes and a short story series. And only then would she pass on the magazine to her brothers!
Later, when she joined the National Cadet Corps, and had to leave for training early every morning, the eldest of her brothers would buy a take away masala dosa for her to eat after training, just so that his sister would not be burdened with the task of carrying a lunch box. The masala dosa was usually packed in a banana leaf, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, which she could easily throw away.
My mom’s eyes mist over as she recalls this – a simple gesture from her brother to make his sister’s life easy.
The other brother, my mom recalls, would give her a crisp ten rupee note every morning, when she left for college. Come rain or shine, the money would always be there on his table, even if her brother was not in town.
When my maternal grandmother was pushing my mom to get married early, as was the norm in those days, my mom was strongly supported by her brothers in her desire to pursue her education in university.
As for the younger brother, who was much younger to my mom, he was her pet, and she fondly recalls how she carried him with her wherever she went, when he was a baby!
Both her older brothers are no more, and she closes her eyes, recalling their love and unconditional support.
For just a few moments there, my mom became a little girl in pigtails again, feeling secure, indulged and loved by this special love that brothers and sisters share.
We Indians celebrate this deep and special bond today, where the sister ties a rakhi on her brother’s wrist, and he in turn promises to love and protect her.