How I Ruined My Little Brother's Life (Without Realising It)

Anonymous Anonymous in Life Is Tough on 1 June, 2017

My brother was four years old when our mother died. There stood an innocent child, asking everyone why our mother had turned blue.

“What happened to her?”

“Where are you taking her papa?”

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“Why isn’t she talking to me?”

“Why are we burning her!”

We stood in front of the pyre and watched our mom turn into ashes. We saw our dad wailing as he performed the last rites. My little brother, clueless and confused as he tried to escape my grip to bring our mother back, but of course, I didn’t let him go.

26th March 2007: Our lives and relationships with others changed forever. I was tired of my brother’s questions. Our grandma told him that mom’s traveling the universe now. That all her troubles have ended.

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My innocent little brother understood that we’re never going to see her again, but that all her troubles were over. This gave him some peace… till he grew up.

Today, he knows that death is the most certain thing ever. He’s 16 years old, but he’s more mature than most adults I know. He’s an introvert, prefers to stay aloof and doesn’t share his thoughts with anyone. After all these years, our mother’s death still affected him. Slowly, he spent more time alone, locked away in his own head.

I could have changed the way he is now, if I was even slightly more attentive towards him. I stole his childhood.

My brother is called Joy. My mother was extremely thoughtful when she named him. He was the hope in her failed marriage. She adored him, more than me. That’s probably why I despised him. I know now that it’s natural to have sibling jealousy, but frankly, he was a sweet little child and quickly became everyone’s favorite. He was popular among all our relatives, nothing like what he is now.

After mom passed away, his nature didn’t change. It was much later when I isolated him out of my own agony and immaturity, and I know that this is what scarred him the most. And eventually, changed him.

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Soon, we shifted out of our paternal grandparents' home and began staying with our maternal ones. It was hard for me to adjust to this new atmosphere as I’d had a troubled childhood myself. I was friendless for almost all my life and with each passing day, I deteriorated in my studies too.

With all this and living an adolescent life, with crushes and being crushed every single time I was miserable and I inflicted my misery on my brother every day, by fighting with him. I quickly became someone who hated everything and everyone around me. I didn’t know then that this was what was killing him.

But he was always my support through this trying time, the only person I truly loved and who loved me unconditionally. Even though I apologized after every fight, I still found more reasons to fight, and he forgave me every single time.

On Friendship Day in 2006, I finally made friends. Three girls, it was a dream come true for me. I finally had real friends. One of them was the daughter of my tuition teacher who invited me to her place. Since they knew Joy too, they asked me to bring him along. And he did.

Things started improving in all aspects of my life suddenly. I was in the company of people my own age, my grades started improving and I slowly began entering and living the life of a teen. As this new life began, so did the conflicts with my dad. Amidst our fights, Joy’s childhood was sabotaged.

And then there was this one incident that changed everything between us forever.
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Two of my friends came over to spend time with me. My little brother wanted to play with us, but none of us were in the mood- instead, we wanted to talk about boys and fashion. Joy constantly tried to get our attention and talk to us- and I snapped.

I tried to ignore him, but I couldn’t. I ended up hitting him. And I didn’t stop there. I tried to smother him, scratch him and even pull his hair. It was only when my grandmother rushed over that I stopped. She saved him from my unnecessary wrath.

That day I broke Joy’s spirit: emotionally and mentally. After that day, he didn’t talk to me for days and we’ve not had a normal conversation since. He still remembers. I still remember.

Days, months even passed. We all drifted off into our own lives. My father remarried and my indifference towards him increased. I disconnected from the “new family”, but also my brother.

Joy began embracing his loneliness. I only realize this now, and it’s too late.

Family is so important and yet, we never acknowledge them. You shouldn’t ever neglect your family, because despite all odds, they’re going to be the only ones there for you. If you’re not in touch with them, you should be. Call them now.

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I’ve tried to tell my brother I love him in all the ways I can and hoping that just like all those days ago, he will forgive me: because I know that he’s the best person I know.

My redemption lies in loving my family, maybe yours too. So let’s tell them how we feel together?

Author's Note:

Nishtha is a collector of poetry, dreams, books and flowers, caffeinated on the idea of love. That very love motivates her to travel and write about beautiful places and muddled relationships.