I am overcome by emotions that will me to write you again, another letter....to tell you what a wonderful, nurturing, caring brother you are evolving into. These are not words, loosely strung together with the choiciest adjectives to bejewel it. Every word I write here....I think about its portent intensely, and use it with a deliberate precision to convey your sweetness of being to you. Yes! You must know what a lovely person you are!
Appa has been so busy these past several weeks in rushed deadlines. And so have I, in one little project after another and this coming India trip of ours. As a result, neither of us have spent that much of time with both of you. We have not had any quality family time in a long while. But any feelings of guilt we have in this respect have been assuaged by your valiant efforts to spend time with your brother and engage him, in the most constructive way possible.
You read to him a lot. You LOVE to read to him. In fact, everyday when you come home from school, you ask for a snack, finish up, and then call him to the little sofa and read to him. Book after book, which he fetches for you. Some titles, you specify, and many he picks out on his own and you read it over and over and over again, tirelessly. He enjoys this time with you very much. In fact, when the bell rings and he hears your footsteps and your voice, he rushes excitedly to see you. You don't take much notice of him then, but you more than make up for it just 1/2 an hour later.
You love to sing to him. You sing Wheels on the bus over and over, and it is because of you that he knows all the actions to the song. Similar is the way both of you bond over If you're happy and you know it. Till date, I have hardly ever sung that song to him, and I watch in amazement as he follows perfectly, all the actions you specify for the song. Sometimes, when Appa and I are sitting at the table, sipping tea, we can hear you both, on your sofa, clapping your hands, and doing all 5! That's when we look at each other and smile, captivated by the sweetness in both your voices, by the love with which you take over him and the simple sincerity with which he follows you. And that is when we feel satisfied, mixed interminably with some of that complex guilt, that we did, surely one thing right....we gave you a little brother and we gave him a lovely companion!
You love to have him follow you everywhere...well, most of the time. You are still afraid of the dark and will not go upstairs on your own, saying you will be alone. But then you will pause and think, and after arriving at a solution, you will traipse up the stairs, little Thambi at your heels. He comes with you, because you have called him to. You call him, because having him with you lessens your fear of the dark...and diminishes your sense of aloneness.
You even take him to the bathroom with you. And while you do your thing, he sits on the stool opposite, and you proceed to instruct him in the basics of anatomy, his and yours, and which one belongs to who. Your conversations in there, muffled through the partition of wood, are like little notes of music, and utterly cute and utterly funny. That partition is there because Thambi believes in your privacy and goes on tippy toes to make sure the door is locked when you are both securely inside.
When you both are together in this manner, I hardly ever interfere. I make sure never to butt in and take away from that moment when you both are discovering companionship, but I do keep my ears open for little snippets of your wisdom and snatches of proper words that escape his mouth every now and then. And at times like these, I notice how you make it a point to only speak to him in Tamil...an honour which you have reserved solely for your little brother, since you deem it the only language he understands. If I say something to him in English you correct me and ask me to rephrase it for his benefit. You also translate some of the undecipherable words he uses, while I stare at him quizzically, because you are the only one who understands what it means.
And as I witness this complete unification of both your personalities, I am briefly reminded of the periods of adjustment , where we had to cut you some slack because of the newness of your role. I remember feelings of despair and despondency that perhaps, I was not doing enough to foster your relationship. Today, I know better. I know that the seeds of the brotherhood that you share now was sown 2 years ago. And it has taken the natural progression of time and the elements to germinate, and for that first little bud to peep out of the soil and into the world. It has taken a lot of love, tender care, reassurance and nourishment to grow taller, and for the roots to expand and establish. Over time, it has branched out, reaching in all directions, seeking the light and spreading the glow. And now, today, we finally see the blooms, out in full glory, in direct defiance of the winter outside, a complete saturation of colours, beautiful and thriving. And as the petals unfold, the gentle scents waft in the air, making the smell of home...that much more like home!