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Monday, April 25, 2011

Bhai-giri

The train sounded its siren, and they hugged each other just like all those who love each other do, on separation. My father and I swiftly turned our heads in every other direction, him staring hard at a bulb, me discovering sudden fascination for a dust bin. They might be married, but that’s no reason for us to be unfazed, or at unperturbed ease when my sister hugs her husband. We are like that only.

But this is not that story. It is of a phone call, between two siblings.

That day as I picked up the phone, she greeted me with the familiar ‘Stinks’. It is a nickname we religiously refer to each other with. Sometimes, I respond back with a ‘hey Double Stinks’. When she asked me if I had time at hand to talk, I stared at the gmail chat blinking furiously, and ignored it.

“I have news for you.”

“You have finally realized that I am superior to you, and have come to beg for forgiveness?”

“It’s amazing how consistently bad your jokes are.”

“Tell me what you have to say. There is a community of women bawling out there because I am not replying to their chat messages.”

“Neeraj .... I like someone.”


It is difficult to crack a joke, or be narcissistic, when your sister says that.

Remember Rocky Balbao in Rocky Balboa? Spraying the villains with thousands of bullets?
Remember smashing a wall to smithereens with your fist? No? Oh that was Sunny Deol. Okay,remember defeating your sister at arm wrestling?

I suppose there comes a time in every man’s life when his younger sister tells him that. And when she does, he must close his eyes, concentrate, and try replacing those mental images of sledge hammers with sheep, raging infernos with flowering meadows, Genghiz Khan with Vinobha Bhave. He must take off that striking Indian male cloak sewed with a thread called possessiveness and expose a vest tagged growing up.

The situation demands poise and manner. He must know all that is essential about that other man. It is a tricky affair, he must ask sensible, pertinent questions. Understand the culture, the background, the values this rhododendron comes from. It is his sister, after all.

“Umm does he play cricket?”

“Haha, I knew you would ask that first up {laughs more}. I told him you would. You are so predictable, stinks”

“You haven’t answered the question.”
A little more steel in the voice.

He does. He’s played up till university level.”

“Err gulp university?
” You go back to the day when they did not select you even for the University probables list. “Bet he wasn’t the best fielder of his college team.”

Hahaha, I am sure my brother is the better player of the two.” And sometimes that’s all that girls need to get their way through boys. We are a defeated gender. I looked quite content after that.

“Hmm.”

“I am so glad that you are cool about this. Apu and Bhavna {cousins} are waiting to know your reaction.”

“ Well, it’s not as if you’ll stop seeing him if I ask you to, will you?”

“Of course not! As if I’d listen to you.”

“Err idiot, at least you could have let me feel that I had some hold in this matter.”

“Please! I’ll kick your ass. Oh you know, ……………”


I met him a few months later. Then, two years later in October 2009, they got married in Palakkad, Kerala. It was not as grand as Shashi Tharoor’s wedding a year later in the same town, but I never saw two people laugh and smile so much on stage as them while getting married. When I look at them, him following her around the house, I know of no two people who love each other more. It reminds me of happiness, of something, of someone. It makes me glad she chose him for he is everything he should be.

As long as I am better at cricket.

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