2 decades ago, that cold February day when Mama and Papa got you home, I was overjoyed. Kids were not allowed to visit hospitals so your sister and I were at home for all those 3 days without Mama. Papa was doing shifts at home and at the hospital, cooking for all of us and Mama. Our grandparents could not visit us since our many cousins were on the way around the same time and there were old age problems whenever people had to travel to the hills in winter.
When we saw you for the first time, you were so tiny and fragile, almost like a doll. We thought you’d cry if we didn’t know how to cuddle you right. We often joked you’d fit in my schoolbag and could be wrapped in a big handkerchief of Papa’s. You were very fair, so fair; we would get our hands and faces close to your tiny hands and compare our fairness difference. Bunty always felt bad that she was considerably darker than you and that Mama would love you more. We all loved you so much. We still do. Do you know you are a tough guy? You never had Cerelac baby features. That summer when Granny saw you, she was so proud of you. Your second uncle, of course, placed you on the master bed and compared vital stats with your cousin and he was beaming ear to ear that his son was plumpier than you. But Granny said, you were the tiger, lean and strong – she was your nanny till you turned one. Also, all the elders who blessed you when they saw you for the first time said you are a blessing – Papa became an absolute teetotaller the moment you were born!
You always had more biscuits than all of us and of course, the TV remote. You were forgiven in all sibling fights but we never spared anyone who messed with you in the neighbourhood and in school. In winter, your cheeks went red like plums and you hated to be pinched since you had cucumber skin. Till you joined school, you had rock star long hair, unruly and wavy. You were fussy with food and clothes. I totally love the fact that you started nursery and kindergarten in a red school uniform - a red tie and red shorts with white shirts and white socks. You came home crying that the senior girls pinched your thighs and kissed you on the cheeks in front of everyone – but you were such an adorable 3-year old. Do you remember smiling at every stranger on the road when Mama walked you to school? We used to be so worried that you are such a kidnapper-friendly child.
The growing-up years were fun! All those birthday cartoons you’d draw and the number of sketchpens and crayons your stories had. We also fought very badly at times. I remember how you broke your first G.I.Joe within hours and you made my study room stink of Dendrite in fixing it. I know you treasure all your toys till now and especially, the green Vintage Hot Wheels car I got you from my first salary.
You ran away from home two times, once for Batman comics and the second time, just like that – don’t ever do that again. I also know you saved up all your pocket money in your second year in college for a day-trip to the next nearest city and cooked up some cock and bull adventure story at home. And every time after that, Papa humored you to a family dinner at your favourite Abba/Kimfa restaurant.
I know you don’t like the Internet so much. You still watch Wrestling matches on TV, I am told. When I began tying a rakhi on your wrist, I don’t remember. Papa always gave you two brand new crisp 5-rupee notes – one for me and one for Bunty. And I always loved getting you something on Rakhi. This Rakshabandhan, I am very happy for you, young man. You will be a graduate soon! You make me proud.