The Sibling

They did not play together. Nobody saw them fighting either. Nobody saw them hugging each other. But the four of them had some unique relationships. The girl had not seen the brothers laughing together. She never heard any of them talking against each other. People often said, “Even a tiny needle can’t thread through the brothers.”

Her uncle always told the children whenever they used to fight with each other, “why do you guys fight with each other? There are four of us. We love and respect each other. We have never fought with each other. I don’t know what is wrong with children nowadays”.

The girl did not hesitate to tell her uncle, “heck yeah, how would you fight if you are not living together.”

The children had a healthy sibling rivalry. Binu and the little girl never got along with the twins. They fought for no specific reason. First, they used to fight for the toys, then for the machinery. Her father had two brothers and one sister. Sister was the older one who was already married. The little girl never saw three brothers under one roof simultaneously.

Often, Binu and the twins’ friends came to visit home. Chachu always asked, “Who was the kid who had just come to our home? How many friends do you guys have? Every other day, I find out about your new friends”.

Chachu believed in quality rather than quantity when it came to friendship or relationships. He often said, “I do have only one friend. Have I made another friend since he moved out to New Delhi”? Chachu never stopped lecturing the children unless her mum or aunt had said something to him, “That was your time. Now it is their time. Time has changed now, deal with it”.

Chachu was right about the sibling relationship and friendship. Chachu’s friend had moved to New Delhi and is still alive and lives there. The little girl had met her uncle’s friend many times in life. Her father’s friend lived in Talwara, and the girl had a chance once to meet him.

After returning from Russia, the little girl was already a teenager when her father finally joined the family. However, their older brother had already gone to the almighty. Chachu and her father were the only ones left under the one roof. It was the children’s time to test the relationship of their elderly.

The girl noticed whenever her father tried to do something. Her chachu always stopped him, “can you get some rest.” She saw some disappointment on her father’s face but could not say anything. Then, one day, she heard mum talking to her uncle: “You should keep your brother busy. Otherwise, he will leave again. What would people say if he left again?” Everyone knew that keeping the free spirit in the cage was not such an easy task.

The girl was scratching her head because it didn’t make any sense. Then, finally, the girl told the twins and Binu, “there is something fishy going on under our noses, and we don’t know about it.”

The next day, she saw her father going to the farmhouse with her uncle. Her mum later called, “Take this lemon water and tea to the farmhouse, go directly, and come back right away.” Both girl and her mum knew well that the girl wouldn’t go directly. She will make many stops before reaching the farmhouse.

The girl called Binu and the twins, “boys, Let’s go to the farmhouse to give this tea and lemon juice. We will also find some evidence about Tiblas today”.

Four of them started to walk toward the farmhouse when one of the twins said, “do you think whose body we will find swimming in the irrigation canal.” Binu had made his best guess, “It could be Chachu because her father is stronger.” However, the twins were not agreed with him. The girl, as usual, had taken Binu’s side, “didn’t you hear about my Tiblas (father and his brothers). People often say the older brother was the clever one, the middle brother is a genius, and the younger brother is a quiet one”.

They found chachu fixing the water pump as they reached the farmhouse, but her father was not there. Suddenly one of the twins asked Chachu, “I hope you have not killed your brother. Did you?”

Chachu took the tea while laughing at them, “Take this lemon water to my brother. He is on the other end of the farmhouse. I don’t know what the heck he knows how to work in the farmhouse. Take him home if you can”.

The girl said, “ha, the gorilla fight. The sibling rivalry. You guys fight too but only guerilla way”. Once, her father tried to touch the cow, but Chachu told him, “why are you disturbing the cows? Why are you outside? Go inside,”.

The little gang thought that both brothers had been struggling to mark their territory. Later, the girl found her father sitting in the compound alone. The girl asked him, “Do you like playing cards?” The father looked at the girl and said, “Yes, but who will play with me?”

In the evening, the girl took her father to meet in the town. The girl introduced her father to the town’s men, who had nothing to do except play the card game. The girl told her father, “We will both come every evening together. I will play volleyball while you play your card games. They are very nice people. Please try learning some local language and be nice to them”. The girl was acting like an adult. She thinks her father didn’t know how to talk with her type of people. Her father said, “Thank you. You are my tiger.” The girl looked at her father, “No, dad. This is my favorite for me. Mum always fights with me about playing with the boys. Do I have a choice?  Now she won’t say anything to me. Don’t share with her that I love beating those boys”.

It has become the father and daughter’s routine now. Her father started to adjust to the new community but still had a language barrier. The girl knew her father was a genius and would learn everything quickly. The girl went through the same in the past. However, the girl did not like how her mum and chachu interfered with her father. So the girl started to give him a ride on the motorcycle when she noticed her father had trouble breathing.

When she found out her father had contact dermatitis, summer was at its peak. This was why her chachu never wanted his brother to touch the soil or live stocks because he was afraid that his brother would get sick. Nobody expected that a younger brother would die before his brother. Her father was already terminally ill due to heart issues, but nobody had expected the quick end of her uncle. Chachu knew he had a few hours left when he wished to meet the girl. As the girl reached her chachu, he said in a feeble voice, “Take care of my brother; that does not matter how you would do it. He is my brother, and he is not used to this culture and climate. Promise me Tumba, and you will do this one for me”.

Father’s sickness was the secret that the family was hiding from the children.  It was not a sibling rivalry. The younger brother’s love wanted to keep his ailing brother as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Her father made everybody’s life miserable at home when he heard his brother got admitted to the hospital because he wanted to visit brother. Nobody dared to tell him that your brother had cancer, already in the last stage. Chachu had hidden his symptoms from the family, especially his brother. He died within three days after being diagnosed with cancer. The brother somehow got the strength to walk behind the casket of his younger brother. Her father could not cremate his brother. His hands started to shiver, but the girl and one of the twins held his hands tightly to support him. Her father looked weak and sad, but there were no tears in his eyes. Within eight years, four siblings had gone almighty. Binu joined them a few years later. The twins live on the other side of the USA and have become successful businessmen. The last time she talked to the twins was when she went to see her ailing mother.

Once a wailing heart said loudly and clearly, “which family? What traditions? Only walls will be left one day”. So, of course, the walls were left but nothing else.

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