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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ice cream and Life

There is an adage 'Your family is a haven in a heartless world' While growing up, my elders  often passed me these pearls of wisdom, and pat came my response ‘yeah right’! Now thatI have begun to experience the fine print of ‘life’, I concede to their belief.

I was raised as a regular kid with the usual chase of marks, peer pressures, evergreen sibling rivalry and the unfading craze of summer holidays. However, more than just the ease of waking up late, I had one more thing to look forward to in my June holidays- my cousin brother Rahul whom I fondly called ‘Bhaiyya’ who was eight years elder to me. He was my maternal aunt’s son who stayed in Meerut and they visited us in summers. He was my guide, a mentor, and the role model in my life. He would patiently hear all my ‘guy stories’ and critically analyze them. He motivated me to improve my grades and always encouraged me. We often went for evening walks, and he always bought me my favorite ice cream. It was a ritual so religiously followed that even the shopkeepers started acknowledging us. As the holidays ended and it was time to pack bags, my planning for the next summers had already begun.

One summer Bhaiyya could not make iowing to his tuitions and other school activities. I was dejected but consoled myself on the pretext that he will make up for it the following year. However, tradition once broken was difficult to mend.  Eventually, I also got busy with studies, and moved to Delhi for my college. Meanwhile, he moved to America for further studies and settled there. We barely spoke and even during the customary conversations on birthdays and New Years, the vibe was missing. Thanks to Facebook, I used to get regular updates about his weekend trips with his wife and kids.

One day, as I was getting ready for work, I got a call from my mother. Initially, I thought it was a regular call as she usually called me in the morning. When I picked up the phone, she was wailing. I got worried and all sorts of negative thoughts crossed my mind. I asked her repeatedly about what happened and then she told me the dreaded news that, Rahul, yes, my dearest Rahul Bhaiyya was no more. He met with an accident while driving back from the hills and lost his life. His wife and kids also succumbed to injuries but were stable. This news broke my family.

It is already three years since the tragedy. His kids come and visit my family in summer holidays. I make it a point to take a furlough for a week and visit home to spend time with my nephew and niece. Each time I take the kids out for ice cream to the shop where Bhaiyya abd I used to go, the owner acknowledges me with smile. I see the same excitement in my niece’s eyes as there was in mine fifteen years back. It is a win-win situation. The kids of course, get their ice cream and as for me, it gives me a chance to meet my brother and tell him that, he will always be missed and will remain in my heart forever. 

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