“Today evening we will be going for the Diwali shopping”. Told her mom as she came to her room to put her dry clothes in the cupboard. So it was confirmed then? Her brother is not going to come, after all. Usually, it was a yearly affair, that is, all four of them going to the Diwali shopping. But this time it will be only three. She didn’t want to go shopping, but she didn’t tell her mother that. So they went in the evening. As usual, she picked a sober colour Kurti for herself, but her mom choose a more colourful one, she did not argue. She had been like this always, never demanding, never opening herself up to anyone, not even to her mother. Whenever she was bullied, insulted, disregarded by her relatives, friends she never complained. She held everything in her heart, and whenever the feeling overflowed she hugged teddy bear and cried her heart out. Her brother was the only person she always had depended on. He would somehow know how she was feeling, though he never would talk to her directly he would make some funny jokes to make her laugh or would get some chocolates that she loved, and everything would look better the next day. But when he left home for further studies, she was shattered, but again she didn’t tell anybody. And her brother was excited about the new life that he didn’t bother to notice her. It had been two years now, and she had come to terms with him not being around, but for that to happen she had cried for many days, had complained to her non-living teddy because it listened to her without complaining. Suddenly, one day she started feeling better. Her brother would come every month as he had promised. For almost a year for every other festival, birthdays, and anniversaries he would be present, and all four of them would celebrate. But this year was hell. She hadn’t seen him for almost eight months. Ganesh Chaturthi, was spent without him. There was no one to tie rakhi to on Raksha Bandhan. Dashehara had also been lonely. Now he was not even coming for Diwali? Hadn’t they declared that it was their favourite festival and they would always spend it together? What had happened this year? Covid? Or was he doing it on purpose? Had he grown used to living on his own that he didn’t even make an effort? These and many such questions flocked her mind. She wanted to call him right then and ask, she picked up the phone too but didn’t call. There were so many unsaid thoughts, complaints, regrets inside her that it often it became difficult for her to breathe. Finally, there came Diwali with only three of them at home it didn't feel like a festival at all.
“Come now dear it’s video-call time.” Shouted her mother. She hated video-call it never felt real to her, but that had become the ‘new-normal’ another word that she could not fathom. She was a camera-shy person, and anyone would know if they see her phone gallery, they wouldn't find one single selfie of hers, and if at all anyone had captured her in any picture either she would have averted her eyes or closed completely unknowingly and sometimes knowingly too. She dressed and went to the hall to attend the video call.
“Ah.. finally. Hmm looking colourful. I am sure mom would have picked up this dress for you.” said her brother. She nodded because words wouldn't come out of her mouth, her throat was clogged with emotions seeing her brother on-screen. She wanted to yell at him for not coming, but she did not. The conversation continued with her parents sharing their routine and asking her brothers routine as if they did not know already. These calls seemed meaningless to her sometimes.
“So my dear colourful little monkey aren’t you going to talk to me?” He asked
She couldn’t withhold her emotion anymore and burst into tears. Everyone was shocked for a moment. She hated whatever was happening to her, she didn’t want to be this person, flaunting emotions on her sleeves. Control, control, control she told herself maybe for the hundredth time but still she couldn’t.
“How can he call me a monkey?” She said sounding silly to herself more than anyone.
“Aww, my dear. Surya you shouldn’t have made fun of her.” chided her mother.
“She is not crying for that mamma.”
“Of course she is crying for that. Isn’t it dear?”
She nodded wiping her tears off with the dupatta.
“No she isn’t,” said Surya his voice sounded serious than usual and she could catch it.
But her mom and dad both started to scold him for no reason. Parents can never understand their kids fully, can they? By then someone knocked on the door and thinking it would be some guests both went to greet them telling her to cut the call. Before she could cut the call her brother said, “Stop. Fine, I am sorry okay? Even though I know you were not crying for that. Also, I am sorry for not coming it was not intentional. Aadhya, you have got be strong as your name. You know who named you that right?”
“Will you be strong?”
“How?” She asked innocently
“Show your emotions. Holding it back makes you more vulnerable.”
“How should I show? By crying?" Again her eyes brimmed
“No, silly, by writing.” He said
From that day she found a friend for life, her pen and paper.
About the author
Varsha has studied English Literature and has a lot of interest in mental health and writing.