Penned by Chagan Kumawat

My brother was only two years older but he looked after me like a parent. When I cried, he would cradle me in his arms. When I felt hungry, he would spread ghee on a leftover roti, sprinkle some sugar and feed me. Every time I felt sad, he would conjure so many faces that I would laugh myself to sleep. He was always there for me like a soothing cloud on a sunny day.

The creaking sound of the train interrupted my thoughts and the sleep of many travellers dreaming on the platform. I was travelling back to the village to meet my father after 4 years.

The platform here was like a rural road covered with sand and a lone street light. Under the street light, stood a man with his tea stall. I tried to smell it but my nostrils had grown to prefer Blue Tokai by now. Anyway, I ordered a cup of tea.

I was about to take a sip, when suddenly a bare-chested kid came up to me. Shivering under the warmth of three layers of sweaters, I was barely about to offer him my cup of tea, when an older kid in a minimal outfit came running after him to buy him a cup. However, the tea-seller wasn’t looking for any money from them and offered a kulhad for free.

The older boy took the kulhad and handed it to the younger one. On their way back, he removed his t-shirt and gave that as well to him.

Alighting at my stop, I was swamped by an army of taxi drivers. For them, I was just another tourist, a big fare. When they asked where I was headed to, I stared blank at them trying to recall my address. I took a glance at the surroundings, chuckled at the familiar sound of our language, and suddenly everything came back to me, Plot 53, Nagarjun Road.

Here I was at the door, with a heartbeat of 170 monitored on my Apple watch, almost suggesting me to visit a nearest hospital, but I knew that this wasn’t for the miles. A young woman drying her hair, opened the door. Before I could gather who she is, a three year old came running crying mom and pulling her nighty. I realised I was in the wrong house.

I walked down the lane to find my father watering a lemon tree outside our new house. He was super excited to take me around the new house, a new better modern house that would be to my comfort and liking. Little did he know that he had sold away the last thread left between my brother and me, a house whose every corner was filled with my doodles on the wall, a house where every memory with my brother would come to life as if it was just yesterday, a house where my brother was still alive.