Have you ever had fresh juicy mangoes that you just stole from your neighbor's backyard? Sitting with friends under the shade of the peepal tree in the hot summer afternoon with the juice of the fruit running down your mouth, while you struggle to keep your shirt safe from the stains? Aman and I share the same story-our bond is sweet, juicy, and yet very nostalgic.
It was a Sunday. I woke up from a terrible nightmare- imagining the day Aman and I parted ways, the painful memory of departing but still wearing the perfume of arrogance and egoism. We hadn't spoken to each other since the last ten years. Our parents often tried to make amends between us but had now given hope. But that didn't mean I did not love him-I genuinely cared for him and hoped to see his daughter who had just turned a year old and had supposedly started talking.
"What happened to us, Aman?"I asked myself. Tears rolled down my cheeks, drenching my grey tee shirt. Memories of that fateful night flashed across my face:
It was the year 2010. Our family was in the market buying rakhis and busy with the festivities. Our father who had picked up claustrophobia and fear of being in crowded places was sitting in the car. Aman and I were slurping our favorite mango drink. Just at this moment, my brother called out to me: "Hey Taneesha! Why don't you bring dad here? We want his help". He was certainly busy discussing something urgent with my mother. I stood at the other end of the road and called out to my father in the car –"Hey dad! Come out of the car. Aman bhaiya needs you". Just at this moment, my phone buzzed. I was busy talking and did not notice my dad approaching me. I heard a loud noise and saw a car hitting my father right across the face. We took him to the hospital.
"He is in grave danger. Let's hope for the best", the doctor told us. Luckily he survived, but Aman and my relation didn't. I was blamed for everything when I was just fifteen years old. Since then we had become estranged.
By now, my tears had shed water equivalent to that of an ocean. I could hear the noise of my domestic help outside the room.
"Didi! Can I take a leave tomorrow for rakhi? I wish to visit my brother's family tomorrow", she asked.
"Why not!"I said, hiding my tears behind a wide grin. She smiled a sweet sugary smile and went about with her work.
While visiting the market that day, I could imagine RAKHI visiting people with joy, embracing them with warmth in his arms, and bringing families together. He stood in front of me and remarked-"Taneesha you too have a brother, don't you? Poor girl! Why don't you call him?"I replied-"He won't talk to me. Besides he can call me too. Anyways, it's late now".Rakhi replied, "It's better late than never". I couldn't say anything. With a face as pitiful as that of a beaten dog, I dashed back home.
I woke up the next day to the sound of temple bells. I had taken a leave from the office, since my domestic help was not coming that day. I decided to treat myself at the local restaurant when my eyes flashed across a woman at the roadside, crying bitterly. I went up to her:
"What's wrong Ma'am? You look terribly upset".
She wiped her tears and replied "My brother has fallen severely ill. He is admitted to the hospital and underwent a major operation a few days ago…. I don't know what to do. I can't reach out to him".
"Why not?"I asked, with gaping eyes and a dry mouth.
"Child last night we two had a fight over the phone. My brother was so furious he hung up on the phone. I did not even wish him on Rakhi today. I want to meet him but fear his response. Now I realize that life is too short of holding yourself back or to make grudges. Our ego will one day all come crashing down".
I could not hear her finishing the sentence and rushed to make a call to Aman. Not to forget, I hung up several times before calling but knew that I had to call him.
Aman did pick up at last. Initially struggling to recognize my voice, he soon assumed that it was his little sister calling:
"Taneesha, where have you been? I was waiting for your call since eternity". I could sense him breaking down over the phone, which chocked my throat too."I am very sorry", I said.
"I should have never been so rude to you. I really want to apologize for my immature behavior all these years".
"Taneesha, so do I. You know, I really felt guilty of having blamed you for everything".
After giving each other greetings of Rakhi, we decided to spend our summer evenings in our ancestral home, together with indulging in childhood memories of having sweet mangoes under the peepal tree and of course! Drinking our favorite mango juice.
After nearly talking over an hour on the phone, I rushed to make preparations for our summer trip. On the way, were emotions of relief, happiness, and nostalgia, all bound together in a coherent whole. I came across the lady at the roadside, this time with a gleaming face. She told me that her brother's operation was successful and he was recovering remarkably well. They had reconciled and she was visiting him for Rakhi.
I was relieved, to say the least, and went down the road for lunch. While coming back, late in the evening, I danced to the tune of birds chirping and tree leaves rustling.
But these voices weren't the only ones that I could hear-they had notes of a boy singing. I stopped midway and saw at a distance the most emotional sight: a mid-aged boy was sitting with his little sister and singing a melodious song to earn his bread and butter. I felt pity for them and rushed to the market to bring back some stuff.
Providing them some help cooled my ambitions. I saw in them the reflection that characterized every sibling relationship.
"It is the best gift forever!"I reminded myself and decided to get back home. In case you are wondering what the gift was, it was a beautiful rakhi and Aman and my favorite mango drink-Aamras.