Published December 25, 2009.
I stood by the door, watching him struggle with his typing.
He kept typing ‘D-e-s-‘.
Then erased it again.
And a blank again.
It was a year since he left his remedial teaching, and now he was out on his own. In a world filled with instructions and words he could not read, he was struggling to keep with the times. Facebook, was his obsession, and his problem. He wanted to talk to all his friends from all 3 of his schools, but the words never came out the way he wanted them to. They either sounded too abrupt, or they didn’t make the sense he wanted them to.
He couldn’t read right, what his friends told him.
I wasn’t helping either.
Born a few years apart. One mechanically challenged, the other mechanically brilliant. And vice-versa for the literal skills. I wrote like there’s no tomorrow, he struggled with his own name for the first 10 years.
We had our differences, and as much as I tried not to sound ruthless and cruel- I kept away from helping him, because he needed to stop using a crutch for his communication.
I remember him on the first day I saw him. They put the dark bundle with curly hair and big eyes on my lap, and I was so excited I cried.
I looked at him, again, now. Standing 3 inches above me, hair coarse, but still curly, and wearing the subconsciously official colour of our household. Grey, with denims.
He yelled again.
I stifled a sob, of a brother I thought I had again for a moment.
I walked away.
That’s what I always do, it’s what I have been told to do- walk away from him, so that I can have a better life. So that my temper doesn’t kill the both of us and so that I can prove that I am a better, bigger person. He wasn’t the nicest guy. He was rude, mean, and spoke to me like he owned my house. Destroyed everything I created. Lied, cheated. Hurt. Threatened to hurt. He drilled into my faults the way you do only when you want to cripple your worst enemy.
I walked back to where he sat, typing what he didn’t want to, not being able to type what he wanted to.
I first understood the gravity of his problem a couple of years back, when a movie about this was released. The ‘I’ll-send-you-to-hostel’ threats were too familiar to miss. The mother weeping, the father’s exasperation- was like they’d installed a camera in my bedroom and watched us for 15 years now.
The realisation of his end of the trouble set in when they showed the muddle in the child’s brain. How nothing made sense, how everything else was so much more exciting. How what he said was never what he wanted to, or what he’d begun to say. How his friends were the only escape route from hurting everyone around him because of his own frustration that suddenly the family was a distant unit of people who only made him do things he’d never want to.
I never thought my own brother would hate words- my source of joy.
But then I noticed the only thing in the film that was different. The sibling. The constant support, the covering up, the absence of arrogance. The sibling who was patient.
I was making my pride my vanity by being who I was. I wasn’t in any way helping anyone- least of all, the only person who needed me most- my sibling.
I reeled back to reality again. He turned to look at me.
“Spelling bol, aaj ke liye last.”
“Kisse baat kar raha hai?”
“School teacher. Type kar na.”
“Bol kya type karu.”
“Likh ‘Radhika is a good sister.’”