Thursday, November 16, 2006


That Ubiquitous Relative

In the days of carefree childhood, my sister had this annoying habit of addressing me by name. Being the older sibling, I would naturally wish to assert my superiority and this address left me rather handicapped. Through highly calculated scheming that would put the vamps of Ekta Kapoor to shame, and immaculate acting whose high standards would never be achieved by those very ladies, I managed to make a stirring case (I hope Mr. Jethmalani isn’t reading this) for my no longer being referred to as Lefty. Sweet darling that my sis is, she agreed to give me a great birthday present once I had started existing for more than single-digit calendar years – the mantle of Bhaiya, the supreme, all-powerful, benevolent older brother.

After our move to the national capital, it seemed to me that the universe had bestowed upon everyone the same title. From the friendly neighbourhood ricksha-wallah to the grouchy guard to all the Johnnies that would appear to clear the messes the household inevitably got into – they were all everyone’s Bhaiyas. I began to feel threatened in the Bhaiya-verse. No longer was my Bhaiya-hood considered significant. The ultimate insult would arrive when I was forced to address them all by the same title. The honour was slowly but surely getting camouflaged in the fresco of everyday events.

By the time I entered college, my ancient knighthood had begun to seem like a trivial detail of an era long gone by. A tale that I would tell my grandchildren – “A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…”. It was the dhobi that suddenly brought back those treasured memories. Every time he pays me a visit to try and make my wardrobe different from a mop-store, we have a conversation along these lines:
Dhobi – Kapde nikal do, Bhaiya
Lefty – Abhi nikalta hoon, Bhaiya
Dhobi – Aur Bhaiya, mahine ke saath rupaye bhi de do.
Lefty – Aaj to nahi hain Bhaiya, agli baar le lena
Dhobi – Chalo theek hai Bhaiya

Guess we’re Bhaiyas-in-arms, what say?

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