I dread the thought of your birthday. Even after all this time, I can’t bring myself to think about you. When I meet anyone with your name, I feel sad. Not a melancholy silent sadness that is mature, but a raw sadness, raw and painful. One that probes the darkest recesses of my mind and wracks me with guilt. The day it happened I prayed for you. I remember the evening become night, as I constantly chanted every prayer I knew. I waited near the telephone a sense of horror creeping, increasing with every minute. I knew that something was terribly wrong. I prayed and slept.
The next morning crows cawed and you were no more. Strangely I remember nothing of that day. I cried, I must have. How the day passed I know not. Yet all the while I was conscious of a feeling of guilt. Of not having seen you for a long time. Of Mama and Mami. And Paati. I remember holding Amma. Being stoic and emotionless in front of Appa; breaking down in front of our friends. Images, snatches of conversations. Of meeting people, of a sense of doom. Bloody guilt all the time.
I barely saw Mama’s face. We were not allowed to see you. I remember being repulsed. Being scared. And today I regret not accompanying you on your last journey, a thought that pierces me. Bathing later was cathartic. Blessed sleep put me out of my misery.
For months later I was scared of the dark. And I hated you. For going away. For changing your seats in the van at the last moment. I hated you with a vehemence I did not know or understand. In vain I try to forget you. I don’t remember our joys, I vividly recall every fight we had. Vacations. Movies we saw. Of being scared and scarred on the way to manhood. Of a glorious friendship that could have been. Of a brother that was.
I feel the need for a grave. Hindus must have a grave. I need a place to mourn you. To cry beside you. I need some connection with you, however tenuous. Come back…