A Letter To My “Cute as Button” Brother.

-When the people who love you unconditionally, not caring about the evil that you hoard inside, are beside you, you seldom understand their importance.-

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Listen.

Understand. And Love.

We’re here. And we care.

*****

To the shining light of my life.

Dear Partner-in-crime,

I always wanted to write this letter, “our letter”, to tell you how beautiful it was when you entered my world and made it bright. You were the light to the darkness in my life, the ray of hope at the end of a long dark tunnel.

The first time I saw you was when father took me to the hospital one fine day, the day you came into this world.

A white cloth was wrapped around your body and I could just partly see your face. You were the tiniest, the cutest thing that I had ever seen and you had just peed on the sheet (don’t kill me for mentioning it). I fell in love, sweety.

That moment will forever be etched in my mind.

That day I found the other half of myself, my partner in crime, my life’s greatest joy, my brother.

Having you in my life was the sweetest feeling. You came to me for almost everything, at times to the point of driving me nuts. Once, I remember being so angry at you that I left you behind. You being the poor little kid followed me and got hit by a cycle. You broke your collar bone. I was terrified that I did that to you. I was too small to understand that I was selfish and that I should have accompanied you rather than leaving you alone.

I was too small to understand what you were to me, to understand that I should have taken better care of you. I was too small. When the people who love you unconditionally, not caring about the evil that you hoard inside are beside you, you seldom understand their importance. You push them away, you play with them, until they are too far away from you to get a hold of.

I realized your importance and felt your absence the most when I found myself in the hospital. At that moment, I wanted everything to regain normalcy. I was lying there on that hospital bed alone, my partner in crime missing. I wanted you beside me, just like I had spent 16 years of my life sleeping beside you, talking about the silliest of stuff, talking about some guy in my life, some girl in your life, talking…speculating about the ending of some book, some movie, some game that intrigued us.

That was our life hon. Spending the whole day apart in school but at night, being together, sharing tit-bits of our daily mundane lives. That was being normal to me. Not this helplessness.

After I recovered, I saw you retreating into yourself. You began storing all of your feelings, thoughts, basically everything in a world inside you. And for the first time, I was not a part of that world. I wanted to reach out to you so badly because seeing you like that took the life out of me. I felt wrung out from inside. It felt as if there was this gulf, an ever-widening gulf emerging between us. And I knew who was responsible.

Certainly me.

From that day to this one, somehow we have learned to live, to be and yet not to be a part of each other’s life. But hon, I still feel that emptiness inside me. The place that was yours, you left and never reclaimed.

I hope hon with all my heart, that one day, you will begin to trust me like you used to, to see me like you used to.

Again.

I have seen you grow up from a boy to a young man, a man who is not only beautiful outside but also has a golden heart. A man not only honest, but also valiant. You are a survivor hon! You have gone through some of life’s worst times but I still see you standing straight, trying to improve yourself even more.

I know for sure that someday you will be a leader and a beautiful person doing good to our country and her people. I can’t wait for that day to come.

Sincerely,
Your Sister

*****

– Aishwariya Sarkar

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The Lessons from The Streets of Mumbai.

Mumbai post

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Listen.

Understand. And love.

We’re here. And we care.

*****

“Once upon a time, on the streets of Mumbai, lived a lady. She was strong, independent, determined and the city had never seen the likes of her. She dreamed about everything she could never have. She strolled down the streets of her beloved city everyday and one could almost say her every breath made the air a tiny bit cooler.

Her grit brought the whole city down. She rose like the sun in the East and no one could slow her down.

She was a bird.

And then, she got married.

You could say marriage shackled and caged her, yet her tale was never forgotten. To this day, the streets of Mumbai miss her stomping feet. The railways miss her sigh. The city remembered her.

Her spirit never did forget the city. She spoke of Mumbai as if it was only yesterday. Pictures of The Gateway soon turned into tales of despair and longing. She told her daughter.

Everything.

Her in-laws would not understand. They would roll their eyes. But, she was not to be stopped.

Years passed, and she was pregnant again. The family needed a son. One daughter was all they could handle. Two was unacceptable. The entire family was invited. Mother in law was convinced a male child was on his way. Preparations began.

The dreaded day arrived.

She washed the utensils. The clothes followed soon after. Her swollen belly did not come in between. Eventually, she was ready. Her bundle of joy. Husband was busy. So was her mother in law. Her other child was too young. The relatives did not bother. She went alone.

She wasn’t really scared or worried. The streets of Mumbai had taught her everything. Not one elusive tear escaped. She prayed to her God and left the house. She never looked at anyone. Took a rickshaw and went to the hospital. She smiled all throughout. Her beloved was coming. Nine and a half months. It was a long wait.

The hospital wasn’t renowned. It was all her husband could afford. A bed was given to her. She felt alone. And she cried. She wept out her misery. And then she stopped. The streets of Mumbai had not taught her this. She remembered the time when she was at a railway station, crying her heart out. She remembered how people looked at her. She was better than that.

At a time when she needed someone to be beside her, only one thing arrived, the pain. And it came right on time. It justified her inconsolable weeping and after three long hours, her bundle of happiness was born. A mother for the second time. She was weak, but she wanted nothing more than to hold her baby. It was a girl.

At that point, she could see her daughter’s future. All the taunts and eye rolling. The pressure to deliver another child. She was in a haze. But all was right when she saw two beautiful black eyes staring back at her. Five little fingers trying to grasp hers.

Weak and battered, she somehow reached the hall. She knew what was to follow. The family would come. They wanted a son. She called them. Afraid. Frightened.

Her mother in law picked up and she gave her the news. She hung up. She was afraid, true, but sadness was one emotion that she just could not feel at that moment.

She remembered the time, when the gates of her University had closed, and she had to stand all alone, in the rain. The wet streets of Mumbai had told her then, that even though people could not see her tears, she should not grieve. She was taught the value of tolerance that very day.

At the hospital, she fed herself. Her husband was nowhere to be seen. Somehow the news of a second daughter had spread, and no one came to her rescue.

She came back home and fought.

In the future, when the entire family would make fun of her second daughter’s dark complexion, she would tell her about the streets of Mumbai. When she would fail in Maths, her mother would tell her about the streets of Mumbai. When she would grow up to be a dreamer, she would tell her about the streets of Mumbai.

Later, the second daughter will scribble the anecdote of her birth on a piece of paper and put this story in front of the world:

The Lessons from the Streets of Mumbai.”

*****

– Diksha Tiwari