My entire childhood feels like a long, summer afternoon. From the time I was 7 or 8, the common theme in my life was bicycles, balmy afternoons, my younger brother Dhruv, and the anticipation of remarkable adventures on the horizon all the time. It’s strange how school didn’t dominate my life. I went to school, but it wasn’t the most important part of my day. That part was right after school and lunch, when Dhruv and I would be ready and waiting for the sun to dip a little bit, to allow us to get on our bikes and head out into the unknown.
We liked to believe it was the unknown, when in fact it was probably a playground, or a sports stadium, or a swimming pool, or a part of an airfield we were not supposed to be in but were very familiar with. We moved every year, so our friends kept changing, but our adventures were a constant. We were in Conoor one year, in separate schools, but spent most evenings discovering different parts of Gurkha Hill, riding horses, getting into fights with other kids and being chased by farmers. We were in Bamrauli another year, counting trains from our balcony on really hot afternoons, spending all weekend in the swimming pool, sneaking into a secluded part of the airfield through a hole in the barbwire. Then the three years in Assam felt endless. Rolling blackouts, decrepit playgrounds, floods, bug bites, busted kneecaps, stolen bikes, stitches on arms, legs and chins, roller-skating and misbehaving was our jam.
Our summer never ended (even when it did), because there was always something terribly exciting to do. New places to tackle and explore, schools to hate, conspiracies to hatch, and all our time to waste in the most glorious ways. We were always in the middle of nowhere, with mostly each other for company. It would have sucked if we didn’t get along. Which at times we didn’t; there were fights, some fierce and some not so fierce. We’ve punched each other, tried to stab each other with equipment from our geometry sets, and we’ve not spoken to each other for weeks. But that’s just a sibling hazard.
Even with a 4-year gap, Dhruv and I managed to have a few friends who crept into the overlapped section of the Venn diagram of our separate friends. I don’t know if this has been a deliberate decision on both our parts. To hang on to each other just a little bit more as we became adults and took off in different directions. I moved to London earlier this year and it took me 5 months to tell him that I miss him terribly. We don’t do emotions. I know he has my back and I have his, but there is rarely any need to let the other person know you care for them at all. I can count on my fingers the number of times I may told him I love him. I can say the same for him. I guess there is never any need to re-iterate what the other already knows. In fact, the aim is to constantly make fun/harangue/harass the sibling, especially if there’s an audience. If I can bring him to tears by incessantly annoying him, my day is made. I’m pretty sure he feels the same way.
He’s the link to my entire childhood. He was there for every second of it. We’ve seen each other grow up, make mistakes, learn from them, make some right decisions, make some terrible ones, been a one man cheer squad when no one else cared, never held back on calling the other one out, speared each other with the truth when neither needed to hear it, and knew what the other one was thinking without ever needing to ask. I always thought of him as my kid brother, and then a little while ago it hit me that we stopped having an age gap at some point. That we’ve been standing beside each other, shoulder to shoulder for a while. We still make secret pacts and hate the same people, and the endless summer afternoons we’ve had in our childhood are stretching well into our 30’s. I guess I’m just lucky to have Dhruv as a brother, because if we weren’t born as siblings, I’d have had to track him down and be lifelong friends with him. This has been way more convenient.