In the early years, it was mostly longing. It was a relationship of few words; spending time when he would come during his vacations. Memories; him playing with my hair, pulling my cheeks and protecting me from everyone. One thing was evident to me even as a child, despite what everyone said, my brother was gentle.
Years later, we get to spend every day under the same roof.
I’m busy cramming up chemistry equations for my exam the next day. The family has been warned not to disturb. Bam, load shedding! I rest my head on my palm in silent frustration, tears strolling down. He pats my head, “Its God’s way of actually making sure you take a break” and hands me my favorite packet of chips to munch in the beautiful stormy weather. Ten minutes later, electricity returns. I smile, pick up my pencil with a calmer mind and get back to books.
I have a particularly long day at school. I retreat to my room. He peers inside: “Mom and dad have had a fight”. I watch him sit beside her all evening, offering poor imitations of his silly friends and telling jokes that aren’t funny. I chuckle and join in. We discuss our day as I sip on my favorite hot chocolate. I tell him about my struggle of getting a summer internship, “Take a deep breath, it will all work out.” Dinner is served. He whispers across the table: “Are you going to waste that rice?”
He is the least expressive in our family, but he pokes his head into each of our rooms for a second each day, possibly just to make sure we’re still there. He inquires about my whereabouts, protectively making sure his baby sister knows all her self defense moves, while pretending to be the ‘cool’ elder brother. He always asked me if I had a happy day. In the frenzy of achievements, and applications, love and hurt, troubles and disappointments, bhaiya is a soft reminder of what matters.
Having faced one of the biggest turmoils of my life of not being able to pursue the course I wanted to, or go to the college I worked hard for, I was crying profusely. My dream had been broken into pieces and I was aching. He got up and hugged me, probably the first time that he ever hugged me. After me ruining his shirt with my tears and nose droppings, he looked at me and said “Your dream isn’t over, I’ll make sure that it isn’t.”
My big brother has always beat me at arm wrestling yet lets me have the remote when he knows I’ve had a long day, without a fight. As he offers to hold my bags, I secretly wonder if he thinks I’ve grown up too. Our relationship is changing, and we grow increasingly different. Yet, fundamentally, the same.
Brave fronts, bitter words, despair; we’ve made it through all. I have wept, been angry, and upset in his presence a countless number of times. He continues to watch his show, silently patting my hand.
Karan bhaiya shows me a simple truth.
I too, am gentle.