Will you miss me?” she asked, delicately, a day before her last day at home, where she had spent her entire life.
“Huh! Why would I?” I said.
She smiled and left the room.
Yes, like most brothers, I was expected to bid my sister adieu with a smiling face. And I did. But wasn’t I supposed to shed a tear or two as someone with whom I had spent my entire 19 years of life was going to live somewhere else for the rest of her life.
Ask anyone, especially in this part of the world, and they will tell you that to be a ‘man’ you are supposed to work, earn and give orders. Do everything but not be empathetic. The same happens when it comes to occasions like your sister’s wedding.
As brothers, irrespective of being younger or elder, you are needed to look after all the preparations, make sure everything is in place, and guests are served well.
Following the trend, I was trying to do the same. It wasn’t easy for someone like me, who is better known as an ‘unsocial’ person. But I kept going as I am the lone brother to three sisters.
Since Kashmiri weddings are a bit different, I was so busy at work that I couldn’t even see my sister once on Mehndi night. She had asked for me a couple of times but alas, I was found nowhere near.
Almost the same happened the next day – the wedding – until it was the time to bid goodbye. The groom’s car was waiting at the gate when I heard the sounds of cries. I rushed and found my sister, who was weeping so hard that I couldn’t step inside. I stopped at the door, looking at her wet eyes.
Everyone was trying to console her. I, too, wanted to walk in, hug her and say, “Dear dee, you mean the world to me, and leaving our home in no way separates you from our hearts!”
Again, I couldn’t! Now, when she was about to leave, I was asked to accompany her in the next car. Initially, I said “no”, but then I decided to go. As we reached, we were welcomed warmly. While having tea, I was constantly looking at my sister, who was trying to fight her sadness and fake a smile.
For the nth time, I was finding ways to not meet her. However, this time around, I just couldn’t hold back. I stood in front of her and guess what, before I could say bye, she said, “Dear brother, you must be tired. Do sleep early when you go home.”
These words hit me like nothing ever had. I was completely shattered. Her words sounded as if she was saying this to me for the last time. I wanted to scream and cry hard. Before I would burst, I said, “take care”, and left. I was yet to reach the door when my ears met a crashing sound! Yes, she was crying again, this time the hardest.
I wanted to go back but she was surrounded by the crowd, and all I could do was stop the tears from falling and leave.
It hasn’t been 24 hours since her departure and I can feel the void she left in our house and of course in my life. Every night she would make sure I ate well. In the morning she wouldn’t let anyone disturb my sleep. During the day, she would check in at least five times to see if I needed anything.
Writing what she did for me might take me days together to sum up, but all I want to say is I feel incomplete without her.
So, dear brothers around the world: take care of your sisters. Love them every day as if it’s their last. And most importantly, on their weddings, unlike me, tell them what they mean to you and how much you will miss them. This would no way make you a lesser man but in fact, the real man.
The writer is a journalist based in north Kashmir. [email protected]