"Happy Rakhi Sawant, brother darling!!!"..i crooned into the mobile phone..
"where?? where??" my brother excited-ly asks..
"not rakhi sawant, i just wanted to wish you 'happy rakhi'. thought i'd make your day and say 'rakhi sawant'.."
"shey!! i almost dropped the baby- was changing the nappy. dont give an old man too much of excitement".
we chit-chat for a few more minutes and then hang-up. It's ironic ..really!! Growing up, i wanted to tie the string around his neck very very very tight rather than around the wrist. Now whenever someone asks about my bro/sis.. i speak with warm fondness. One becomes mellow with age and lose the fangs!
I dont have a biological brother per say - only a younger sister. But my aunts and uncles more or less compensated that void for me by giving me truckload of cousins. While my female cousins (someone told me that cousin-sister / cousin-brother is a wrong usage) where the subdued variety who'd give their toys to me without a murmur, make my favorite dishes when i am staying with them during summer vacations, and narrate bed-time stories over and over again until i snore away at nite ... their male counterparts kept the law of averages.
I am not joking when i say that some of their actions have resulted in life-long humiliation for me. For example, my name.. No, not Keerthy.. none of my relatives even know that name. They know me by my pet-name - which was actually a nick name one of my bros decided on one fine day. The name stuck like a bad habit. My parents started using it... publicly!! Just imagine my shame and horror when i have friends visiting my home & my dad calls out "Mottuuuu... ur friends are here"...i die a thousand deaths.
My brothers enthusiastically welcomed the idea of having a new victim to play their sadistic pranks on during the holidays. Every year they learnt new tricks and swear words in school and i was their favorite guinea-pig. If ever my parents thought that growing up in a city would make me even a bit street-smart, those illusions were completed misplaced by how completely naive i was to the a-new-prank-every-hour strategy my 3 Big Bros (BB) played on me.
For years, i said "No Thanks" to cream biscuits. Ask me why?? Coz they have monster-poop in between them. Really! The brown ones are the mud-monster ; the ones that eat worms and your nose squiggies..The ones who eat monster poop becomes vulnerable to attack whenever they walk barefoot on ground. BB, such a daring young fellow.. protects me from those monsters and takes my share of biscuits. So gallant of him, no?
Then there are the "Frooty" tetrapacks! Breeding grounds of insects. But those would just crawl out through your tummy the next day - the Fanta/Pepsi/Cola ones are the worst. They try coming out through your nose. On innumerable occasions, i have sought BB's help in killing the nose insects. They say the strategy is simple - but very painful, only a pro should attempt it. BB drinks up the cola at one go.. And close his mouth and nose by hand. You see ! he is suffocating the worms that is trying to come up through his nose. Die you fiend...die!!!
Then there were the games - did you know that the most important role in the world Badminton Cup is that of the person who picks up the shuttle-cock which falls out of the court? I had that privilege every single time :D ... or that the person running after 'out of boundary' balls in cricket get the 'child-of-match' award? Such neat things i learn..
Freshly grated coconut give you mustaches, Jam >1 spoon per day gave you squint eyes, kicking your elder brother's shin results in a lost tooth (this was proved correct!)...so on..and so forth.
Once they passed outta school, i got a promotion from being a guinea-pig to being an accomplice. Now they needed me to do copy the Record book in neat cursive writing, to call up girlfriends ("hellooo Uncle!! Anjali there?? this is Meena.. her class-mate"), to whisk away couple of fried chicken pieces from kitchen before the lunch/dinner, etc..etc..
Then one fine day ... they got jobs elsewhere in the country and out of it and went away.. We still kept meeting once in a while - during someone's marriage or similar.. I still got ridiculed for my clothes, BMI, hair-cuts etc. during those meetings. But the edge wasnt there.. It was more of a small-talk than full-hearted put-downs i was used to and was looking forward to. Then, they got married and had kids -- i tried avenging the wrongs done to me and tried choosing the names for my nephews and nieces. But then, i couldnt find anything much degrading so settled for the almost normal .. Amey Shivshankar, Navneeth etc. I got married and they grudgingly admitted that i am indeed no more the little girl who used to tail them all the time. Though, it would have been great if i had a stunted growth.
I am sure that history would repeat itself. My kids would in all probability suffer all that i did from my brothers' kids. They would hate each other during the growing up years..but then..in the end..they would wish badly that they could turn the clock back to those years..as i do now.