Is 18. She is a second-year engineering student from Manipur
I AM THE older of two sisters and we’re a small family of four. A small family is a happy family indeed. But once upon a time, there were five people in our family. I had a younger brother, Ashish, who was four years younger than me. He was very different from me. He was crazy about cricket. He was more into sports than studies. He loved black and I loved white, and that was how different we were. When it came to books, he hated them. It was very easy to make him fall asleep; all I had to do was to just keep a school book in front of him. He would always end up being scolded by our parents. But I would proudly say that he was a great cricket player. If one asked my friends about their favourite cricket players, their answer will be either Sachin or Yuvraj or Brett Lee or some big name but, as for me, my brother is my favourite.
As I sit here on the bench in our garden, looking at beautiful fruits and flowers dancing with the breeze, I wonder if the mesmerised onlooker will ever imagine that this is where our family’s dark moments lie. Deep down, under the roots of the plants growing here. I always spend my evenings here thinking about my brother and how his soul blossoms and dances with the flowers and the plants.
It happened five years ago. He was 10 at that time and I was 14. He would usually go out with the other kids to play cricket in the evenings. But on that warm, sunny December evening, the other kids didn’t take him along. The previous day, his team had lost the game and he had lost his pocket money as well – the losing team had to buy snacks for the winners. Mom and dad were busy that day, so the two of us had lunch together, not realising that it would be our last meal together. I can’t remember him speaking much that day, all I remember is that he asked me for a five rupee note for the next day’s game, which I promised I would lend him. After that, he went outside to practice – playing cricket all alone in the playground near our house pond.