Aashuanna's brother Adi
by Padmaja Menon
He was eleven when Aditya was born and to say he was unhappy would be an understatement. He hated his little brother, hated Amma and Appa holding him, feeding him, cooing to him, kissing him. He didn’t remember them doing all that to him and when Appa held out the baby to him to stroke or caress he pretended to do it, albeit wishing to slap the silly little face. Why was he always so cherubic and saint like, the moron. In three months he could pedal his feet pretty fast and drool yucky stuff and Amma would be all glazed over with love. Silly billy that she was. To tell the truth Ashu wasn’t neglected or anything they just wanted him to act the older brother which he didn’t like. They also started calling him Ashu anna! Yikes, imagine being called Anna. But they went on “Adi, see Ashuanna is here, Adi see Ashu anna wants to carry you”. Noooooo, thank you, I don’t want to carry this idiot and my name is Ashutosh not Ashu anna.”. He would walk off in a huff but Amma would hug him and laugh. And that he couldn’t say no to. He loved Amma and her funny kitchen, masali smell.
Adi grew and started smiling as he gurgled away. In fact his eyes would follow Ashu who in spite of his hate would be drawn to his silly slobbering face and find him smiling at him stupidly. Foolio. When school started he began to not really care about the lazy bum who didn’t have to slog like him but Amma would make sure he said bye to him while going out and hi when back. It became a habit and then the now nice and rounded bimbo actually learned to wave bye and grin happily at him. He hated it when his friends hoo-hawed over Adi and loved to carry him too. Once they thrust him at Ashutosh and he couldn’t push him away. In fact he had to hold tight otherwise Adi would have slipped and fallen. He felt his heart thumping with a sudden dread. OMG, if he had fallen! He didn’t understand it. Why did he care if the babbling weirdo fell and broke his head?
Too soon the year flew and it was Adi’s first birthday. Ashutosh did not enjoy all the pampering and buying and the party that was arranged. And when he was to be babysitter a number of times he wanted to scream. Adi wasn’t troublesome or destructive yet and looking after him wasn’t difficult. But Ashutosh felt responsible for him as he didn’t want his parents to feel that he neglected his little bro. So he did his bit of babysitting. And as he read his book or wrote something the little fellow would clamber onto his lap from time to time. Then he would wander off in his wobbly way and return to him pretty fast. Ashutosh found himself watching him and actually waiting for him to clamber back to him. When he asked his Amma about it, she said he likes his Ashu anna and feels safe with him that’s why. At that he looked at the babbling and now kissing his Amma Adi and he smiled. He suddenly felt good. He wondered how it would feel to be kissed by those drooly lips.
The birthday party was a happy
affair and Ashu had a great time because his friends were invited too. The cake was his favourite as Adi was too little to enjoy a cake. He just nibbled at it and turned away. Ashu was made to hold him by Amma who said Ashu anna will hold you and stuck him in his arms. Embarrassed to the core he was wondering who to fawn Adi off when Adi looked him in the face and lisped anna! He couldn’t believe his ears and screamed, “ Amma, Adi called me anna”. His parents looked stunned and said that was his first real word. Ashu went red. He looked at his little ‘thambi’ with his round face and downy hair. He suddenly felt tall.
The year was halfway through when his Paati fell ill back in the village. Amma, Appa and Adi left in a hurry, he was left with his Chitti, Amma’s sister. He and her son Vaikunth were almost same age so he liked it there. But when it was almost fifteen days he began to be worried. Amma spoke on the phone and was helpless, then Appa came home and Amma stayed back. Ashutosh found himself missing little Adi!
Paati died and all of them went for her last rites. Adi seemed to have grown a bit bigger, the country air suited him and as soon as he saw Ashutosh he lisped Anna and gave him a two toothed grin. He almost toppled into his arms from Appa’s and Ashutosh grinned. It felt nice to hold him after so long.
Later it was decided that Amma, Appa and Adi would return later as some legal things had to be settled. Paati’s property division etc. So Ashutosh returned with Chitappa and Vaikunth .
A week later Amma and Appa met with a car accident on their way back. Ashutosh lifelessly held on to Chitti and Vaikunth as the Ambulance rolled in at the hospital with the bodies. They were rushed to emergency. He screamed for Adi but everyone was silent.. An hour later they were still waiting when he looked up and spied a roly-poly downy feathered head and a familiar crying. He leapt up and so did the others. Adi ! Adi was ok, in fact the person holding him was the police. The child had escaped injury as he was in the back seat and playing with some toy on the floor. Ashutosh stared, his heart in his mouth and his heart sang thank God at least he’s alive, thank God at least he’s alive…..He rushed to the police and grabbed the child and kissed him all over his stupid slobbering face. Adi , Adi he wept. The policeman was a little worried. He asked and who are you. Ashutosh smirked through his tears and said Ashuanna. I am his Ashuanna. And Adi pulled his face and said loudly Anna. Ashutosh hugged him tightly and refused to give him to anyone else.
Today. 20 years later.
Ashutosh removed his glasses and wiped a tear. Adi had passed his post graduation in flying colours. His coronation was over and he came rushing to Ashuanna. Both of them left for home. Ashutosh dropped him home as he had to rush to hospital. Adi grinned and said “ Say Hi to Neethi .Dr Ashu anna. Ashutosh waved and sped off. Adi hollered , “Amma, I am homeeeeee….”*****