We are being discussed. We can always tell. It’s a look, a tone, a word – dead giveaways that tell us the Folks are talking about us. Today Mom and Big Sis have been watching us, talking about us and fussing over us. We don’t mind the last one bit, but we are miffed at the reason behind it.
Big Bro has dumped us. We mean, we can understand he wants to visit Daadi and the cousins but we cannot understand why we cannot go with him. In fact, we had made our enthusiasm pretty clear: we jumped in and out and over his suitcase, we brought our favourite tattered ball, we dropped that favourite, tattered ball into the suitcase, we followed him around, we made Those Eyes at him, we went all tippy toes when we saw him put on that muzzle that humans are wearing these days.
But he has his drawback – he’s only human. And humans are not half as good as we are at picking up signals. So, he just took our ball out, patted and hugged us, and rolled that suitcase out – and vanished. We thought he’d return. We had our ears up at every sound around, we wailed when a doorbell rang and we were stuck in Mom’s room, we turned away from our breakfast in the hope that he’d be called to feed us. It’s lunch now. Rejecting breakfast did not work; plus, our hunger pangs drove us to the kitchen to ask Mom for lunch. We understand now that Big Bro is not coming back soon no matter how much we sulk. But Sulk we will.
It’s the time of day when we should be joining him at work, attending meetings or sleeping through them. It’s the time of day when we should be jammed against his chair to help him work so that he cannot budge a centimetre without having to beg forgiveness for disturbing us. It’s the time of day to sit outside the door if we are locked out during work. Soon it’ll be that time of day when we climb onto his chair or stare at him holding our favourite, tattered ball to remind him it’s time to play. Or that time of day when we join him in the game that he plays as he lounges in his room. If we weren’t curved against his legs and back, he wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything in that game as he furiously jabs the buttons on the black box in his hands with his arms at crazy angles around us.
Even his room feels different. Mom spent a little time there and now nothing is in place. All his stuff is tucked in somewhere and we can’t see any of the mountain of stuff that was on the table or the bed despite standing on two legs and sniffing all the while Mom was shifting and folding and putting things. We have to complain to Big Bro that when he’s not there, Mom really messes up his room. That is, we would complain if we were not sulking. But Sulk we will.
We learnt something we didn’t know earlier because it’s the first time since we’ve blessed this house with our presence that Big Bro has been here at this time of the year. Seems today’s a special day for brothers – Bhaidooj – like Rakhi (Of Brothers and Sisters) earlier in the year. It’s when sisters and brothers celebrate being sisters and brothers. So just before Big Bro left for the airport, Big Sis splashed cold water on her face, cleaned up, woke herself up enough to get a small plate of some sweets, and a diya (we recognise this from last Diwali – Pooch once again in a pickle) and tika. Our Word of the Day (WOD) this time is tika. It was drilled into our brains this morning, as Mom reminded Big Sis 20+ times what to put on that plate. Mom, being human, is of course rather dull. Must she start when it is obvious Big Sis is half asleep? If it were us, we would say things only when she is awake so that for every 20+ of Mom’s words, we manage in just 2+. Anyway, that’s a different story best left for another day. Which we may recount when we are not sulking. But Sulk we will.
Back to the point. We watched as Big Sis wrapped Mom’s dupatta round her head and put tika on Big Bro’s forehead. No one – just no one – is allowed to show or receive affection to or from Big Bro without our stamp of approval, so we had to be on our toes and keep a watch. We were a part of the whole little ceremony, that much we will grant Big Sis and Big Bro, just like two days ago when all of us crammed into the tiny puja corner of the house to do the Diwali puja as a family. That is why are so let down. After all that inclusion, to leave us behind and go off. You bet we will Sulk.
On Bhaidooj, we also remember Big Bro II (The legend of Lord Bisquit). When we sniffed disdainfully and gloomily at our breakfast bowls in the morning, we had to do something to distract ourselves from the growls in our tummies. So we slept. Mom knew it was a Sleep of Upset, so she sat there, cuddling us (did we mention we’ve been fussed over today?) and tucked us in. After last night’s drizzle, the weather has turned. So Mom spread a shawl over both of us though we suspect it was more to make us cosier so we would not spring up the moment she tried to steal away. Moms are masters of deception, and her trick worked. We napped blissfully, snug in the shawl and comforted by it. We forgot we had to Sulk.
That shawl once belonged to Big Bro II, Bisquit. 2020 has been rather hard on us in many ways. Before it took away our Daadu (Of dark days and silver linings), it took away our Big Bro II. Mom asked for some of his things (we did tell you earlier that it was a shock to us that she could love somebody as much as us, or even more, when we spoke about Nani’s house – Come September @ Nani’s House) and Nani sent a few. We have inherited Big Bro II’s comb, brush, drinking water bowl, leash, and his shawl. That was the shawl we used, really used, for the first time today. Family is family. It troubles you and also comes to your aid in ways you cannot imagine. We are too overcome to Sulk though Sulk we should.
Bhaidooj 2020 to us thus is pining for Big Bro (our main one), sleeping on his checked pyjamas, warm and comfortable in the shawl once used by Big Bro II. We aren’t quite sure if that is all about being brothers and sisters. Because we aren’t sure if we are gloomy or content today. We think being brothers and sisters is a bit of both. Like there have been times when Big Bro has yelled at us and we have sat with our backs to him. Just like when Big Bro and Big Sis yell at each other. But then there are those moments when we just love the ground under his feet. Just like Big Sis turning to him about something called a ‘university’ or his parading in front of her for her to choose which shirt and shoes he should wear to a night out. What we see is when Mom picks on any one of us, she has the other three to contend with. We can tear one another to shreds but no one else can raise a finger, a voice. Not even Mom – as much as we love her. And that is what being brothers and sisters is all about.