spoon

Piggy

13

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The following post is a part of a contest at BlogAdda.com in association with imlee.com


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To quote a few sentences from the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities: it was the best of times, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the spring of hope; and to add a few sentences of my own: it was the age of innocence, it was the age of romance (it still is, of course), it was the age of girls in skirts and boys in shorts, it was the time when we believed in magic, it was the time of bicycles and uniforms, it was the world of hand-written letters and fountain pens, it was the time with nothing to fear, and nothing to complain, it was the season of little pleasures and big laughs, and…it was the time when my baby brother arrived into my life with a hoopla.
His first smile, his first laughter, his first steps, his first words, his mischief, his dance, his song, his questions (cute in the beginning, irritating after some time), his first birthday, his happy prance – all these could easily be termed as happy memories; and a whole chapter can be dedicated to each of these topics. But the memories of a particular day overshadow all the above, a day that redefined my whole philosophy of love, and family, or perhaps, family love: his first day at school.
 It was seven-thirty on a Monday morning. Since it was the first day after vacations, the first day of my High School, I was naturally excited; what’s with the promotion from shorts to pants and all! I was washing my bicycle when my brother came and stood in front of me in his trademark attire – vest tucked in his underwear. To add to his style quotient, his hair was all disheveled. But then again, it was the time when disheveled hair was not considered a fashion statement, but carelessness. To hell with being careless, my brother must have thought; who the hell woke me up?
‘Ready to go to school?’ I asked.
He scratched his head, rubbed his face, and nodded in response.
‘Why are you washing your bicycle?’ he asked as he sat on his haunches.
Experience had taught him that I never washed my bicycle unless it was for an important occasion.
‘Just like that,’ I replied, without lifting my head.
‘So where am I supposed to sit? In the front or at the back?’ he asked, as if it was a car.
‘Anywhere you want.’
He stood up, tucked his left arm under his right, tapped his chin with his forefinger, and said, ‘Hmmm. Let me see.’
He was in the process of making an important decision of his life. After contemplating its pros and cons he finally made it: ‘I shall sit in the front. But make sure you put a towel on the bar for me to sit astride.’
‘All right, Your Highness. Now allow me to wash my bicycle. You go and get ready.’
I think some boys, like me and my little brother, learn early in life that one shouldn’t worry about taking care of a problem or performing an important task until it becomes so imperative that your whole life falls apart if you don't do anything about it immediately. My humble brother demonstrated this peculiar and interesting nature of us boys by running inside the house to use the bathroom; but before that he made sure he informed me about it: ‘I should go to the bathroom. Very urgent.’
And thus began a routine that would never change.

***

It took my mother one hour to get him ready, half an hour to make him drink his milk, but when a plateful of maggi was placed in front of him, he finished it in under five minutes flat. Boy, was I proud of him!
At his behest, I put a towel on the bar of my bicycle, and waited outside the gate. It was ten past nine already. ‘Mummy!’ I almost shouted.
A second later my brother came running outside, followed by my mother, with his lunch bag in her hand. He came around the bicycle, and put his hands up for me to pick him up. I pulled him up and sat him on his throne. Giving me his lunch bag, my mother said, ‘Go slow.’
Not once had my mother said that until now. There really are some disadvantages to being the first child. The second one always gets the extra attention. The worst thing is that your younger siblings understand that.
‘Yes, yes, I will,’ I said.
‘No, no, don’t go slow. Go fast. Vroom, vroom,’ said my little brother.
‘Put your hands on the handle and sit tight. I know how to ride a bicycle,’ said I, and off I went, pedaling.

***

Kindergarten was situated inside our campus itself. With a little campus of its own, it, however, looked like a different school altogether. Although my brother had been there before (for admission), he acted as if it was his first time. See-saws and swings caught his attention immediately. He jumped off the bicycle and ran inside. I parked my bicycle and followed him inside. Some kids had come with their parents. And it wasn’t an unusual sight to see some of them crying. But here my brother was, unhinged and fearless, happily getting acquainted with the playground. I held his arm and dragged him towards his classroom.
‘Why, why, why?’ he cried.
‘You have to go in there,’ I said.
It was then he started to pull away. ‘No, no, no.’
‘Oh, just get in there.’
His class teacher met us near the door.
‘Kishan,’ I said, putting my arm around my brother.
‘Of course. How are you today?’ she said
He lifted his head up and looked at me with a frown.
‘Get in. I shall meet you in the afternoon, OK?’
He went inside quietly.

***


Along with two of my friends I went to meet my brother during the lunch break. Having already made some new friends, he was busy with the swings.
‘Made some new friends, already?’ I asked.
‘Yes. He is Abdul, and he is Deepak.’
‘And he is Piggy!’ said one of the boys, giggling.
‘Fantastic. A nick name on the first day itself? That’s something,’ I said, turning to my friends.
Kishan picked up a stone from the ground, turned round, and threw it at his friends. ‘Don’t call me that,’ he yelled.
‘Piggy, Piggy, Piggy,’ the boys said in chorus.
Kishan came up to me. ‘Tell them not to call me that.’
I, suddenly putting on a serious face, said with austerity: ‘Hey, don’t call him that. If I ever hear you calling him names, I will break your legs.’
The boys looked at each other. ‘OK,’ said one of them eventually.
My brother, grinning from ear-to-ear, went to the swing, sat on it, and ordered his new friends to give him a push from behind. They promptly did so.
Over the next few years he was called many things: Dums, Dumma, Black Tomato, and many more. But “Piggy” stuck. He has no qualms about it now though.

***

By the time School got over in the evening, I had become famous; especially among girls: Karthik has got a cute brother. Needless to say, I reveled in all the attention I got. In the following days, or perhaps, in the following few years, I used my “cute brother” to make friends with “cute girls.” But that’s a different story altogether. Let’s not get there. Seriously, let’s not get there.
‘A birthday girl gave us chocolates today,’ my brother announced when I went to pick him up.
‘Really?’ I asked, pulling him up and sitting him on the bar of my bicycle. ‘How many did she give?’
‘Two each.’
‘Give me one,’ I asked, shamelessly.
‘I had saved one for you, I promise. But you came late. So I ate it,’ he said, taking out a chocolate wrapper from his shirt pocket.
School gets over at four in the evening. It was five past four when I went to pick him up. And that was “late” for the little bugger.
I pedaled along as I listened to his stories: our miss is quite nice; we drew pictures; I drew a house; I don’t know why they make girls sit next to us; I really don’t like it; they are all smelly, smelly; powder smell, hair oil smell; Abdul and Deepak are my best friends; our miss told us a story; but Mummy had already told that to me; you know, that Parrot and thief’s story; you are too slow; go fast; I want to drink water…
We reached home at about four-thirty. Kishan, or shall I say Piggy, threw his bag on the sofa, removed his shirt and shorts, and at last, shoes and socks, and went to the kitchen. It wasn’t water he wanted to drink; it was sugared water he had kept in the ice-tray in the fridge that he wanted to check. I helped him take it out. He tasted it and made a face. ‘Yuck, it’s not good.’
A few minutes later he came to me when I was changing my clothes. ‘If someone calls me Piggy again, will you break their legs for sure?’ he asked.
‘Of course, I will,’ I promised.
Piggy then climbed onto the bed, wrapped his hands around my neck and kissed me on the cheek. After that, without a word, he jumped off the bed, and ran outside to carry on with his business; whatever that was.
If I had a sister under such circumstances, she, probably, would have said that she loved me. But I had a baby brother for a sibling; and as most boys are, at least in our case, expressing love through words was never a cool idea, is never a cool idea. Perhaps, a kiss on the cheek speaks a thousand words. Now that he has grown up, kiss has been replaced by Kit-Kat.
That entire day, or maybe that particular moment when he treated me like a Superman is one of the best moments of my life. And as my all time favourite quote goes: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take; but the moments that take our breath away! I'm indeed blessed with many such moments.
Memories - good, beautiful memories - are all that make us feel alive!

Copyright © Karthik 2012

  

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