Home. Morning. Or evening. Or pretty much anytime, actually. Me standing in the corner (standard punishment for having done something ghastly). D walks up.
D: Ke bokechhey? Ma bokechhey? Acchha, ami ma-ke bokey debo.*
Bonfire night - presumably St. Paul's Cathedral, in the crisp Calcutta winter.
Me: (Having really heard the words to "Rudolph" for the first time) What does "He went down in history" mean?
D: (Deadpan) It means he failed history.
Interior of jeep, Hazaribagh forest, pitch black night, competing for a favourite uncle's attention. D telling joke, me trying to cut in.
Me: I saw a tail, I saw a tail! I just saw a tail hanging down from that tree.
D: Was it a long tail or a tall tale?
Home. D (18) and a bunch of his friends hanging around in his room. Me (10) insisting on hanging around with them.
D: Progga, now do your disappearing trick.
Platform, Ahmedabad station, waiting for the train home after visiting D on campus for a few days.
D: So... what else has been happening?
Me: (the first time I'm speaking to Family about Something So Very Important)
Ummm... so... ummm. I think I like this boy... (kicking clods embarassedly, voice trailing off)
D: Really? And? Tell me more...
Me: I don't want to talk about it.
(Not another question about this, ever.)
Me hysterical, sitting at the top of the stairs, howling so hard I can barely speak. On phone with D, calling from Bangalore.
Me: And I fell off the train. And I can't figure out if I'm hurt. My knees are numb, I can't feel anything. I'm scared. Don't tell Ma and Baba.
D: (trying to understand what I'm saying and respond calmly instead of calling the parents pronto) OK. First, go see a doctor, and let me know what he says. And sometime - tomorrow, next year, 5 years later, whenever - make sure you tell them yourself. Don't let them hear from someone else.#
Me in Bombay, talking on the phone to D in Bangalore.
Me: What the hell is the deal with men? Why the...? What the...? *%@!#&! (non-stop ranting for 10 minutes.)
D: (resigned tone) OK, I can see we'll have to have that man-to-man chat about sex now.
And on... and on... and on...
To the world's most outstandingly annoying sibling... my tormentor for years... and idol for many more. You may be old but I still think you're pretty cool.
* Who scolded you? Ma? OK, I'll scold Ma then.
# It only took me 3 years, by the way.