My Moment of Truth — Averee Burman (19th December 2020: 9 months into the Quarantined life)
11th May 2020: A phone-call to disrupt the tea-time. Broken voice of a broken-hearted mother — “Your brother is no more!”
I had never known grief to be so profound and so silent. It buried itself, somewhere deep in the inner crevices and far away from the inner workings of my mind. The unshed tears too locked up the hushed voices in my brain — my brother, as a topic, was sealed off forever, as a source of a conversation lubricant. It was my mark of respect — for the man or the boy who was beloved yet never felt that touch of love, when alive.
My moment of truth was right then, when I realized how, in our daily lives, we often forget to celebrate the life we live or the ones we choose to share it with. We never pause enough to show the care, we may feel or shower the other with the barrage of love and affection that we may have. Instead, we subscribe or mayhaps, submit to the values of success / pride / status as symbols of a “happy” life. But materialism is not the marker at all!
This realization too dawned on me tangibly, post the unfortunate death. Given Pandemic and the Lockdown, I could not reach him on time. He succumbed to his peace, much to our disbelief. Yet, the guilt shall always reign it’s terror in me — the event is the Robespierre of my life.
My brother and I have always been the black sheep of the family. Like the adage goes, the black sheep, is often the one, who is woke and is able to heal the generational curses. The black sheep is able to spot the fault in the farce and jettison the dross of the “shallow.”
My brother, because of this, was faced with ire and scorn. It was further dented with the constant comparison of his and my life / lifestyles: I had always been the more studious one and ergo the hard-working donkey while he the smart worker. He had his own values and principles in life — which never found a patient listen in anyone. So, my brother carried on with his life, keeping all his moments of success / failures under wraps — trudging under the crucifix that he was not worth the celebration by anyone.
Pain begets pain. So, we clung to each other. Him being the older one, he shouldered the mantle of being the responsible elder sibling and protected me from all that was could tarnish the wind beneath my wings. He raged from being the Red Bull to the Black Bison for me.
Coming from a broken home, he did all that he could, to see me living my life, in its entirety. If at all, there was a fall, he was there to pick up the broken pieces and let me fly again. Maturity dawned on me late too — it was a little late in my life too, when I could realize the goodness he showered my way, every day, to also reciprocate in kind. We then became an indomitable unit.
11th May, broke that unit after 33 years of togetherness. In one swift blow, all seemed damaged and dead. Yet there was peace and love, as I let him go. He never got the love he had come into this world for — from the family, which is said to be the bedrock of the most sacred of emotions.
Family, for both of us, had been a field of “agni-pariksha” — where we were measured by our net-worth and the flamboyance that we chose to display. The love we got, was sternly meted out by the gifts we had doled out. This was starker for him — maybe, being a man, gender had an adverse impact on him, given the scale of expectations. We never felt accepted or belonged in our own home. So, we shunned it and created our own, in some other city. This also was the reason why, neither of us went home-wards, when the nation was quarantined. Family for us was not a bond of blood — it was created out of love.
My brother’s death, left a void which is irreplaceable, irrefutable and irreparable. As 2020 will move to its closure, the crystal clear realization would haunt me forever, that this year, I will not be able to wish him, “Happy New Year!”
This was the last year, I had heard his voice or confided in him my deepest darkest secrets. This was the last year ever, that I had laughed with him and gossiped about the frivolous parts of our extended family / friend circle. This was the last year, he had advised me on being more positive and reaching for the stars at all times, careless of any fall that could befall me at any moment. I would hate to leave 2020 behind, as this was the last year, that he’d been here, in flesh and blood.
Yet the show must go on. The simple realization of sharing and showing love to who deserve it most, around me, is an ingrained truth in me today. My brother had lived this philosophy and, in his death, he passed it on to me. Life is not the template that we must live and hurry along as if in a rat-race: it’s a choice, we make to live it our way and face everything that it has to offer. The pillars for true happiness should be authenticity, acceptance and nurturance — for own self as also others who add meaning to our lives.