Thursday, October 15, 2009

the bond i share with the five ruppee note

I AM THE older of two sisters and we’re a small family of four. A small family is a happy family indeed. But once upon a time, there were five people in our family. I had a younger brother, Ashish, who was four years younger than me. He was very different from me. He was crazy about cricket. He was more into sports than studies. He loved black and I loved white, and that was how different we were. When it came to books, he hated them. It was very easy to make him fall asleep; all I had to do was to just keep a school book in front of him. He would always end up being scolded by our parents. But I would proudly say that he was a great cricket player. If one asked my friends about their favourite cricket players, their answer will be either Sachin or Yuvraj or Brett Lee or some big name but, as for me, my brother is my favourite.
As I sit here on the bench in our garden, looking at beautiful fruits and flowers dancing with the breeze, I wonder if the mesmerised onlooker will ever imagine that this is where our family’s dark moments lie. Deep down, under the roots of the plants growing here. I always spend my evenings here thinking about my brother and how his soul blossoms and dances with the flowers and the plants.
It happened five years ago. He was 10 at that time and I was 14. He would usually go out with the other kids to play cricket in the evenings. But on that warm, sunny December evening, the other kids didn’t take him along. The previous day, his team had lost the game and he had lost his pocket money as well – the losing team had to buy snacks for the winners. Mom and dad were busy that day, so the two of us had lunch together, not realising that it would be our last meal together. I can’t remember him speaking much that day, all I remember is that he asked me for a five rupee note for the next day’s game, which I promised I would lend him. After that, he went outside to practice – playing cricket all alone in the playground near our house pond.

Hours later, dad asked for him but he was nowhere to be seen. Mom and dad started searching for him – the playgrounds, play stations, neighbours’ houses, everywhere they could possibly think he’d go. My younger sister and I tried looking for him at all his frequent hangouts but it was all in vain. Our search caught the neighbourhood’s attention and it gained momentum, lasting for hours. Back at home, mom told everyone that she could see a cricket ball floating in the pond. She was already in tears. Everyone gathered around her, scolding her for thinking such things but agreed to search the pond to convince her that her fear was baseless. One of our neighbours went into the pond. “There is something, I think it’s a body.” The minute she heard it, mom fell down, unconscious. Uncle brought out Ashish. He was already dead. They tried everything, all possible aids to bring him back. I was so confused, tears streamed down my cold face. I didn’t know what was going on, all I knew was that I wouldn’t be seeing my brother anymore. I saw papa cry for the first time that day.
They dressed Ashish up for the funeral. He was looking lovely – smart in his school uniform.
I don’t know how cold he must have felt inside the water in that chilling pond that day in December. Did he die right after falling down there? Did he long for someone to come out of the house and find him? Why didn’t we see that cricket ball at first?
We could have found him earlier and maybe we could have saved him. These are questions which will haunt me and my family forever, questions for which we have no answers. But I’m sure the Almighty will have the answers. Now, all we can do is pray for his soul to rest in peace
Today, again, I sit here in the garden which was a pond five years ago, the pond that took my brother. I have a five rupee note in my pocket that I will give him one day for sure.