Big Bro

As a child most of my birthday parties had two cakes instead of one. Surrounded by friends, as I smiled into the camera, trying to occupy centre stage, he would stand beside me, stealing my thunder, insisting on cutting a cake though he had celebrated his own birthday six months earlier. Dad’s suggestion to ignore him and ‘his cake’ didn’t pacify me one bit.

Unhappy birthday?

He could constantly rile me and get on my wrong side . He hid my things and broke my toys. He tore my books and ruined school projects. He spoiled family pictures by making sad faces. He would pretend to be asleep when he wanted to be carried and fake retching when he was full. He nearly got lost in a shopping centre and locked himself in our bathroom. He would escape from his classroom and insist on sitting in mine. He was the devil!

It’s not that I was totally defenceless. I had my ways and means of getting back at him. I was not above the occasional pinch or jab when no one was watching. Also since I was nearly four years older, I was entrusted with the job of teaching him. How I would make him pay for his misdeeds. Making him redo assignments and unnecessarily memorise difficult words. Carefully timing his study sessions to coincide with his favourite TV shows. I was equally evil!

765D8EA0-AE95-4148-83F8-875F1B9543ACOn that particular day, he had spent the entire morning with his arm raised over his head, showing off his Helium balloon, something I found mildly irritating. Later on as we stood on top of the Skylon Tower overlooking the Niagara Falls he asked me to hold him up so that he could get an unobstructed view . I told him to look through the grill. As he continued to pester me I lifted him and a deadly thought flashed through my mind. I wondered if I could hoist him high enough and throw him over the railing. Forty five years later, I am glad that I couldn’t !

As my brother ushers in the year leading to his fiftieth birthday I am thankful that railings are high and seven year olds have fleeting homicidal intent and little muscular strength. The focus of my fury miraculously grew from a trouble making brat to a friend, confidant and co- conspirator. He then outraced me to adulthood and has ended up becoming my ‘mature’ trouble shooting big brother. One who takes care of things unobtrusively and wisely. He is also my self appointed counsellor, defence attorney and personal press agent. I feel honoured to be the sister of the man he has become. It is comforting to know that should catastrophe strike he will be at my side. That he will fight for me with the same vigour as he fought with me in the past. But more than that I feel grateful to have someone in my life who can read a smile in my voice and detect hesitation in my manner. No one will ever know me as he does for not only do we share a common past but also the dreams we had for our future. And although leg pulling remains our favourite sport, I know that we have something much more meaningful that will survive the business of living.

On his birthday, at the risk of ruining my diet I baked myself a cake. It was not as much to celebrate the event as it was to settle an old score. It’s never too late to get even!

( published in the Hindustan Times on 19/6/2018 with birthday wishes from the editor)

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18 thoughts on “Big Bro

  1. Subhash Rajora says:

    Manju, that’s a nice tribute to a brother.

  2. Manju Gupta says:

    Thanks Subhash

  3. Rohini Sehgal says:

    Manju. I have tears in my eyes. This sure is your best. God bless you for making me also realise once again the value of a sibling- a person who is a co passenger throughout your life

  4. Kavita Aneja says:

    Beautiful narration of sibling rivalry and bonding. ..ur strengh is tht ur narratives r nased on facts…and it sure shows….hate to say but proud to b ur frnd…
    Sorry proud tht u r my frnd

  5. Indu Jyoti says:

    If its based on facts.. then you had a cute past ,beautiful present n a secure future

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks indu, kavita and rainy….yes its based on facts….i vividly remember wanting to throw him over the railing…i do have a murdurous streak you friends from my past would know!!

  6. Surbhit Agrawal says:

    Only tis morning i was thinking abt d deadly fights v had in house … punching shouting yelling !!

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      And as unbelievable as it may seem Surbhit,someday you will have similar sentiments! Mark my word.

  7. Beeta Monga says:

    Beautifully expressed!!! Happy 50th Birthday Rajiv!!! Loved reading this. Such a wonderful birthday gift from your sister. She has a great way with words.

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks Beeta …..the compliment means a lot coming from you….you write so well yourself

  8. Anita Jain says:

    Beautiful bonding,typical homely banter and emotional sisterly outpouring,enjoyed the lucid style and the story,stay blessed you two. ..keep sharing

  9. Anju Singh says:

    Many happy returns to the b day boy and my heartfelt appreciation to you Dr Manju Gupta for such an expressive bday greetings

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks for the kind words and wishes. They mean a lot

  10. Dr Madan Puri says:

    Read the whole narrative. I am impressed with ur writing. You remember so many things of ur past…… Enjoyable.
    May and wish you continue to have good times. Remember me to your brother. I miss sibling stories at times. ??

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks uncle for your appreciation . How did you miss sib stories….you must have witnessed fights between neera abha and bro

  11. sunita singh. says:

    Too emotional. Stay blessed forever.

  12. Madhu Sudan says:

    Respected Ma’am,
    Greetings of the day. Hope you are having good time and health. I was reading your article ‘Never too late to relish the old sibling rivalries’ published in Hindustan Times dated June 19th, 2018. The write up was so engrossing that it bring the child in everyone alive.

    This even reminds me of one similar scenario from my life when my younger brother was born. I was about two years old, just after a month of his birth. I severely felt ill, my parents took me to various child specialist but to no avail. Then luck by chance they visited a very famous Child Specialist in Jalandhar, Punjab. Without even examining me the doctor got up from his seat and took my brother in his arm from my mother’s lap and asked me will it be ok for me if he throw my brother out of the window. I firmly said, ‘Yes’.

    The doctor said to my parents that I am not having any illness. It’s just that I got a little depressed because of the divide in my parents attention towards their kids.

    And now after almost 25 years, I love him more than I will be loving my future children. Even though he has grown up in to a super intelligent and successful man and I still call him my ‘kaka’.

    Thanks for sharing and expressing such experiences from your life.

    Er. Madhusudan

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks for taking the trouble to write in. I am glad you could relate with the story and it took you back in time. All of us experience intense sibling rivalry as children….it is good that for most of us it is just a phase of life that we outgrow

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