OstrichSpeak

Ostrich - Speak... Hell what more can i say???!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Ides of March

Today's the day that Caesar died and today's the day my brother was born, all ancient history of course. And the look in my older sibling's eyes as I tell him it’s his turn to make tea is no doubt as lachrymose as the emperor's at his final betrayal. Poor guy. But there's something to be said for his kind of guy. The strong silent variety that talk only one on one. The kind that insist that they should scrub the floors too if their partners do. So just today, on a day he would gladly give up because he's embarrassed by too much attention, I salute him in all his dark horse glory. He really is the cream in my canole! I love having someone in the family i can talk to about all my escapades. This is rarity for people who come from my land of emotional repression and general misogyny. When i think back on the fights we'd had growing up, it amazes me that we can be so close and intact now.

My brother’s birth was seen as a little miracle because my mother has polycystic ovaries. There's so much sinewy tissue in there that it’s a big wonder any swimmers got through at all. My birth, seven years later and two miscarriages later, was even more so. Before i was born my brother made a clandestine bet with his best friend that i would be a boy and staked half a packet of boiled, hard Ravalgon sweets on it. So the first thing he said, to the shock and consternation of my mother (my father was away at sea) was "Oh no! It’s a girl!" and I just wailed the way new born babies do. That was to be our equation for many years to come.

When I was about six, he told me I had leprosy. First my fingers would fall off, then my toes and finally my nose and i would die. I howled like a banshee. Then he laughed at me saying "don't be so stupid, of course you don’t." I stopped. Then the return "Actually Sam, you DO have leprosy, I just didn't know how to tell you". More howling. "Ha Ha! Fooled you again". Crying stops. "Oh! but you do!", "Nooooooooooooo!" And so it continued for an afternoon.

And then there were times when he and his friends were off playing battleship armed with actual walkie-talkies and I was denied entry to any of this fun. One day he riled me so badly that I chipped his tooth by slamming my palm on the water bottle he was drinking from (we used to store water in washed out glass whiskey bottles). As my mother used to put it, we were “like snake and mongoose”. Mortal enemies. Except for the time he beat up this nasty neighborhood boy who ran me down with his bicycle and various small assorted Kodak moments. There was so much childish resentment between us. I was younger and more spoiled, he was older and more disciplined. He was older and got a weekly allowance (enough to buy tapes), I was young and foolish and had to make my money caddying for my dad at a buck and hour (Indian money that is! And I used to stupidly think to myself Yay! Four Fixy Foxies i.e. my favourite gum). Anyway, that’s the way things were.

Eventually, he went off to college and I went off to boarding school and in some years the age difference lessened and with the first admission of each others first sneaky cigarette/the viewing of the same porno stashed behind my dad’s book case (as if we wouldn’t find it there!), we were friends. Things have gotten better and better from there, we grew close sharing more substantial things than our exciting new vices.

It’s been such a long, strange trip. Growing up was fun with all our differences and when I think back on what he said when he first saw me, I can’t help feeling it’s kinda cool. Considering where we grew up, our religious and cultural background and how he COULD have turned out, in our root-sense he never treated me like a “girl”. Maybe it began then, maybe it didn’t. We moved apart, in opposite directions, found our paths and eventually met at the same spot. Full circle. Best friends, independent adults, brother and sister. Always, brother and sister.

14 Comments:

At 5:14 AM, Blogger Roger Stevens said...

It's a real family birthday time then? Have a good time with your bro.

The new guitar sounds nice. I have a black Washburn semi-acoustic. It's the first good quality acoustic I've owned. It's a couple of years old now. I had to save up for it. I found my other acoustic years ago abandoned on the top of a wardrobe in a school where I was giving kids guitar lessons. I used to loan it out to children who didn't have a guitar of their own.

It's a cheap Yamaha. Nothing special but I like it.

 
At 5:33 AM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

That was a very sweet read....it made me smile all the way thru...:)

I too have an older brother (actually, I have two of them). One is 18 years older than me (so we never really lived together) but the other is 10 years older than me so I can relate to how, when you get older and the age difference doesn't matter so much anymore, you become closer.

 
At 5:39 AM, Blogger Ostrich said...

Roger- Yes its a real family birthday time, a prohibitively expensive time by association also! My Mother's birthday was right after mine too

Stacy- I don't know how it happened exactly but i guess a common gene kicked in somehow, somewhere. I'm don't think at all that in all cases blood is thicker than water, but some just are. Like the Kurt Vonnegut speech when he says to keep your siblings close 'cause they will always look out for you. I totally get that. Of course i understand that its circumstancial.

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger Manish Bhatt said...

Me had fun reading this. Me likes to have fun. Keep writing fun stuff.

 
At 1:57 PM, Blogger the wheel said...

That made me smile too. Wonderful post.

 
At 11:46 PM, Blogger transience said...

the bond between siblings--that story unraveled just beautifully...left me feeling a little less lost.

 
At 5:26 AM, Anonymous Saurabh said...

That was extremely well-written. So true that age differences cease to matter between siblings as they grow older..
Particularly enjoyed your previous post on auto rickshaw drivers. Couldnt agree with you more on that. However, if what people tell me is true, Bangalore rickshaw drivers are not a patch on their Chennai counterparts.Any experiences with them?

 
At 5:36 AM, Blogger Anurag said...

This was a very nice read. So, do you or do you not have leprosy? :))

 
At 9:41 AM, Blogger Ostrich said...

Manish, Egghead & TRanscience- Thank you very much. It was very stream of conciousness so i guess it came straight from the heart. Didn't hang around in my head long enough for me to wonder whether it was too sappy!!!

Saurabh- While bangalore Automen are vile, Chennai s much worse. Atleast they follow the meter here!

Anurag- LOL!!! No I don't, or do i? Nah... but maybe....

 
At 8:28 PM, Blogger Boomsa said...

So very lovely, Ostrich. Bautiful. One day, I will write so eloquently about the Potato. (Erm. My sister.) So? Can we meet and get drunk then?

 
At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

cheerses to the ostrachey and brether ffifee!!!

 
At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Tina said...

cheerses to the ostrachey and brether ffifee!!!

 
At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Tina said...

cheerses to the ostrachey and brether ffifee!!!

 
At 3:47 AM, Blogger SC said...

i loved reading this!
and super, you actually make elder siblings look human! my sister told me i was born a boy (i believed her till i was in the 4th standard) and she'd keep pinching me to make me cry.

 

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