The chances that you’ll get to read this letter are too slim; but nevertheless I want to pour out my thoughts just for my sake.
The entire world and its cousin knows how much I’ve longed for an elder brother. My infinite prayers were answered when you came to stay with us in 1999.
Even before that, you have always been my inspiration. In fact, you still inspire not only me; but our entire set of cousins with your skill and hard work. We all know how you got to work by being the pillar that your family desperately needed when Peripa lost his job and was confined to bed by a paralytic attack. You must’ve been fifteen or sixteen, then. But, you took up a big responsibility on your shoulders and helped Perima ease out the financial stress that she must’ve gone through.
I remember sitting in our balcony and listening to this story of yours. It is as fresh it is today as it was when I heard it from you the first time, in that moonlit night of one March month. You had just completed your twelfth standard. You had a family to shoulder; Perima, peripa and akka; that, in a town as small as Karur. You were already working part time in an export company. Now, at the crossroads, you had to decide whether to continue the job part time and get into a college; or take up that export company job full time. Will you have money to pay the college fee? Will it be too much of a gamble to let go of that job? Till the last day of admissions, you weren’t sure. And, finally on a whim, you took the plunge to study. And, the three years of B.Com were too difficult to cope. But then, you landed on a secretary job in a five-star hotel in Madras. And, that’s how you became my Anna!
The fun times we had in that Madipakkam house of ours just refuses to leave me. You, thambi and me. Life was blissful that one and a half years you stayed with us. Our own finances were at staggeringly low depths with Appa losing his job and all, but with you by our side, no one could limit the fun we had. Every time we thought we had enough money, we would go and get a big family pack of ice cream, empty it on a plate, grab a spoon each and start digging into it like that was the last ice cream we were gobbling up in our lives. And, the scramble for that coveted last spoon.. Aah.. It gives me goosebumps and my eyes well up even now thinking about it.
The number of kilometers we rode on our worn out TVS XL Super was a revelation even to the makers. You tried your best to teach me ride it but like everyone else, you too failed. Heh.
You taught me to write a diary. That’s how I ended up realizing I can write a bit, as well. Do you remember what you gifted me for the birthday you were there with us? A 30-day Norman Lewis vocabulary book. I used to share my crushes with you; and you used to share your small town stories with me. How you used to beg me to write your CC papers for ICWA?! And God, I even wrote a couple of them for you; only for you to ditch the exam itself. I hope you didn’t forget the resounding beating you got from me that day!
If I was ever able to do my CA, remember, you’ve also played a part in it. When I was on the verge of deciding to opt for Commerce after tenth standard, my athai stomped from somewhere and tried to brainwash Appa and Amma against it. You stayed with us that time. And, quite naturally I came running to you. You drilled sense not only into me; but also into my parents. That’s one of the important reasons why I am a Chartered Accountant right now; albeit a dormant one for the time being!
You know how they say life happens in phases; it sure did for us. You moved from your current job to another and at the same time, you moved from our place to your own. And there, you found your girl. I was so happy you did but also wondered if our relationship would survive after that. How will someone take it when I fondly called her husband, ‘Dei Anna.. Inga vaa da!’ Not too well, was the emphatic answer. How will the possessive sister in me take it when the time you spend with me is flicked off by some one more indispensable? Sad. Angry. And, so I let our lives drift apart. We did discuss this once, didn’t we? Hah. We don’t leave out debating even the most sensitive of the stuffs, do we?!
For me too, things changed drastically then. Marriage happened. Children happened. Life happened. And, now we meet at weddings. A once-in-a-while hello and how are you is all that is left between us. So, what made me write this, you ask.
Last week, when Amma told me that Peripa passed away, I wanted to come running to Bangalore; hug you and comfort you. That’s the bond we share, don’t we?! Not anymore, says life. ‘Cos even when I wanted to, I didn’t come running. Although I assure myself, it is the monotony of life that has taken over me, deep down in the heart of hearts I know it isn’t. It is that thing called the ‘adult ego’ that has brought this iron-veil to stay between us. You might think otherwise; but I don’t want to fool myself.
I called your home twice yesterday to talk to you; how I’d manage it without my voice trembling and my eyes shedding a couple of drops of tears I had no clue about. I know how much you loved Peripa, whatever the situations might’ve been; and I really wanted to know from you that you are doing better now after a week of his loss. All I could manage yesterday was talking to your wife and to Perima. ‘He’s running on an errand!’ was the answer I got both the times.
I really want to talk to you Anna. Yes.. The ego is still there but that cliched word you know, LOVE, that has just swallowed this ego; although temporarily, it is still a relief. In the midst of this tedium called life, I will make sure to remember to call you whenever this ego is eclipsed. I promise I will not expect the same in return. For all the old times’ sake, I definitely will try being the ‘sis’ I was till a decade ago. Until I really get around doing that, take care of yourself. You need to be in good health to inspire us.