It was on the fateful night of 7th August 2012 when I lost my brother. My only sibling succumbed to meningeal tuberculosis after three and a half years of constant suffering.
But I’m still connected with him, I still talk to him in my mind. He’s taken on a fair amount of my conscience. Sometimes, I still cry myself to sleep, wishing the last six years were but a dream, shedding the tears I ought to have during his funeral. I could barely look at him. When people question, I’m always at a loss for words. Is he dead or passed away; is he no more or just a whiff in the breeze. Sometimes when referring to the past I speak as if he were in the present. “He used to pick on me endlessly,” I say to those who care; “He still does,” I tell myself softly. A brother who is eleven years older to me, he naturally took on the mantle of a third parent.
I remember him reading Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to me, when I was down with fever, changing the wet cloth on my forehead to bring my temperature down. I remember those special Thursday omelettes he would make when we were home alone, generously topped with butter and cheese. I remember, albeit fondly, the umpteen fights we’ve had, the punches we’ve exchanged and all that poking, pinching and pushing that went on. And I always remember him as a mediator between my parents and me. I remember every time we went to a restaurant, he would urge me to try new dishes, I remember he was always eager to visit new places. I remember the way he helped mum in the kitchen, peeling, cutting, chopping and frying, while designating me as the official taster, and I remember the way he pushed me to the brink of madness while he supervised me while I did my sums or took a spelling test. I remember raiding through his cupboard, generously applying his hair gel, wearing his clothes and slipping small change into my bag.
The best moments were when we would watch our favourite movies together; Godzilla, Batman, Independence Day, Terminator 2. I still can’t get through these films without tearing up now and then. As a child, the American accent was a little hard to understand, and even if he did lose his patience, he found time to explain the dialogues, the scene, the hidden messages and motives.
When he passed away, his absence was unfathomable, a rude shock. My brother to me was like the sun, constant as ever. I had never imagined a future without him in the picture; and yet, here I am today. It hurts when I see other brothers and sisters, and siblings galore, it hurts when I can’t confide about my dreams and ambitions like I used to. It hurts having to drive his car, his heart, through the city, and now I’m having to fill in his shoes, trying to do the best I can. But some days, I wish I had a little extra help.