We were in the hospital. I was right beside her on the bed and was holding her hand. I had come to see her because home wasn’t fun without her. Though the hospital smelled bad but she was worth every and any bad smell. Anyway, I forgot to mention how she looked like a clown in that loose hospital robe which she insisted be called a ‘gown’. I was missing her and began crying when they wanted me to leave.
“ Hey! C’mon. You don’t have to cry now. Don’t be stupid. You know you look uglier when you cry. Right.”
“But I’m scared. I don’t want to go.”
“ Fine. I’ll tell you a story and that might make things better for you. I don’t know how to tell stories perfectly but you ain’t any good either. So you ready, winer?”
“ Yeah fine. Don’t call me that though!”
“So it’s the story of a little girl who lived in the woods….”
“No! The protatist doesn’t always have to be a guurrl.” I kept crying until she hit me on the head and this time not because I was crying but because I had pronounced ‘protagonist’ wrong again.
That’s how my sister is. Sometimes, she gets so furious that I am scared for my life while on others, she shields me from everyone. Be it the neighborhood aunties who would come complaining about their broken windows or the big guys who would come to ask for my badminton racquet. I always thought I was a good player, atleast now I know it was my sister whom they would climb up 6 stories of the building for.
That day, unlike all others, she didn’t listen to me. The story that day, wasn’t of my choice but hers.
“ … shut up and listen.” She continued.
“She was a little one. Around six years old. She did not have many friends but the few that she did, always bullied her. Would call her names, tell her to dress properly, be prettier and beautiful. They never paid heed to the fact that she was a sensitive one. Her mother was her best friend and when all her friends would would make her cry she would either cry in her mom’s lap or go to the woods and sit under a tree.
The tree was her favorite. It’s big sturdy branches appeared to her like the embrace of her grandfather whom she never met. Even the tree would take care of her. Once in a while, drop a few fruits to make her smile or do the little wiggle with the wind to make her laugh. She was happy yet yearned for more. She wanted a companion. Someone who wouldn’t leave her just because she looked or dressed in a certain way. Someone who would hug her when she cried and danced with her in the rains and maybe fight with her but just be there. As a constant.
She didn’t know whom to ask for the same and ended up talking her confusion to the grandad tree. And…. While her eyes were closed, and her lips were busy asking for the friend,a little tinkling bug came and sat right at the tip of her nose. She was amazed. She had never seen a thing like that before. She was extra cautious and didn’t want to fright it away. Gently, with a fingertip she picked the bug up with wide eyes open and could almost see it smile back at her. She took it home and both of them stayed together. Like companions, they would play together, dance in the rains and sometimes, get scoldings from mom. All together. But then, one day, the girl had to go. She had to leave the woods and sadly, even when she wanted to, couldn’t take the bug along. You know, she loved the bug more than she loved herself. She was sorry but she knew the bug would understand. She loved him. That’s it. Go now!”
“ What? That’s the story? That is bad, made no sense.” I said, squinting my eyes.
“Now listen to me little one, if ever you happen to meet the little girl’s bug, tell him that it’s the best thing in the world. The purest blessing she ever was bestowed with.” She starting curling up in her bed and I could almost see that it’s the medicine and not her talking. She made no sense.
“ Listen, send them in and you go out, I’ll meet you soon.” she said.
I did as she said and then I heard all of them run inside. Inside where she was lying and all those men in white coats were frantically chanting some words to each other. I was scared to death. They were running around and mom and dad were crying. I couldn’t make sense of anything and wanted to go check for myself. I wanted to go run and dig my head in Di’s lap because that was what I’d always do, but she was inside there. Being operated upon. I had no clue how to handle situations like these on my own. I kept crying until I recalled her telling me about the secret letter. I reached out to my bag and there it was. Di would never leave me alone, now that she was busy, she made sure I wasn’t scared and left the letter as a temporary substitute.
The letter read
Do you feel alone? Have you already begun missing me? I know you can’t do one thing on your own. C’mon there’s nothing to cry about. You know I’m always around you.” I couldn’t help but smile, she knew I wanted her around all the time and I loved that she knew me so well.
“ You just have to take care of yourself now. I know I have raised a good boy who knows how to love everyone. Just so that you know, mom and dad love me more but I love you the most.
Love you, my bug.”
“Oh no! Mom and dad love me more.” I ran to mom to confirm the same only to spot the word bug in the letter. Why would I be the bug? Is that because I keep ‘bugging’ her? I laughed to myself and couldn’t wait for her to come out and listen to this utterly smart joke. I stopped and re-read the letter. She didn’t call me bug. Does she mean she is the little girl? Does that mean she is going away? Is she dying? It cant be… she can’t go.. I don’t want her to go. No! She doesn’t have to go. I can’t be here.
The six year old me, almost collapsed on the floor crying.
I saw her being taken away covered in a white cloth. I saw the reason to my life being taken away. I wanted her to stay. I wanted her to make me a part of her tough time. I wanted her to know that I wouldn’t ever sleep without doing my homework, I would drink the whole glass of milk and do as many good deeds as she asks me to, I wouldn’t ever scare away puppies. I just wanted her back at any cost.
I didn’t know what to do and whom to talk to but, like a good brother, I kept telling her bug that she didn’t want to leave you alone. Only if I could tell her that her bug never tinkled ever again.
Read more about her here.