Excited about coming home after a long year in college, he walked into Periyar Bus Stand. Catching a bus to his house, he stood by the doorstep. He was tired of the slow and congested train covering the length of the country, from Lucknow to Chennai. Following the tiredness was the bus from Chennai to Madurai. Crossing Meenakshi Temple, he closed his eyes and said a silent prayer, a practice he never could forget. He was still standing on the local bus when he had reached the destination. The legs ached, shoulders sagged from slinging the bulky bag, but his mind was refreshed with the memories of Madurai. The exams had been good, and he was returning to be home for a month, the only place where he could be himself, where he could talk endless to his parents and they wouldn’t complain one bit, where he could play with his five year old brother. The kid was born, rather too late into the family, something he did not know what to think about. But what made the time enjoyable was the joy that the kid could bring to him. He was after all, his brother. His own blood. Someone who had looked up to him for everything (quite literally), who would imitate his every moves, follow him even to the toilet until he got pushed out, who would jump on him at the best possible chance to use him as an auto or to play ‘plastic bat cricket’.
He was almost home now. Walking down the lane to his house, he counted the steps back from the bus stop. That was the school days doing that to him. Remembering the days when he learnt counting, when he count the steps back from school, the days he grew up to love math and the day he joined college for his high grade in Math and the days when he regretted never to have to go to school again. Approaching the front gate, he was now thinking of family. Parents would probably be waiting for him at the door step, sister would be running out to greet him, grandma would switch off that radio to listen to his college stories. They were all going to be excited, that is for sure. He had reached now. Three and a half days of journey gone by in a flash. Looking up at the balcony, he saw none of the people he had expected, only his brother playing with a car toy. ‘Hi da! How are you?’, he hollered happily, while tugging at the rusting gate latch.
The kid looked down below, saw a 20 year old boy with a bag thrown up his shoulders. Ah! The kid was so tired of shoo-ing them away. His mom would never buy anything from them anyway. He knew she will call them in and give water, like they were his brother. He had to chase this salesman off before his mom came out. “No. We don’t want anything from you anna! Go away!” the kid screamed back.
“What are you saying? Don’t you recognise me?”
“No no, why don’t you understand? My mom won’t buy anything from you. Please go away before she comes out!”
“It’s me. Your….”, choking tears, he opened the gate and ran into the house.
I still took time to even understand why the salesman dashed past me, into ‘my’ house. Doesn’t he have manners? He went straight into my kitchen, threw the bag aside and sat down. And he wept. Mother was shocked. She asked what went wrong. She gave him a glass of water to soothe his sobbing. Why does she always help these salesmen? Something should have happened. I was peeping silently into the kitchen when, “What happened Krishna? Stop crying and tell me”, mother asked in a hushed voice. That was not any salesman! That was my brother, and I had blatantly forgotten that such a person even existed in the family.
“My own.. brother.. thought I was a..a.. salesman. He doesn’t recognize me”, he said, large tears dropping from his cheeks. That was the only time I saw my own brother crying. I hadn’t understood what he was telling. It all transpired slowly to me, that I had made a mistake, a big one at that. That was also the only time I forgot anything about him. I had forgotten he existed, nor was I informed that my brother (whom I had conveniently forgotten) was coming back home that day.
Soon, things resolved and went back to normal. He spent more time with me, never showed an angry face at me. Maybe, deep within, Krishna felt guilty for having gone out of my life, so much so that I had forgotten him. Memory is a witch, the misplacing of which can lead to paradoxical situation, so deeply slashed into your memory that it is unforgettable. One’s expectations and the other’s memory is what usually makes up for majority of the domestic fights fought all over. While the former is not treatable, the latter can definitely be taken care of. Deep within, I still cannot get over the guilt for having forgotten a person so important in life.
GUEST POST BY : Srikar Venkatesan
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