Till I left Trivandrum, me and my younger brother have always shared one bed. It was a habit which has been there for as long as I remember. Even though there were occasional fights for wanting the whole bed to oneself, we would somehow squeeze in and fight for the better pillow, for more space, for a ear phone of the Walkman and all sorts of fights possible in a hushed tone and in a small bed. After a while, we stopped listening to music at night before sleeping. Instead my brother wanted me to tell him stories. I used to read a lot more during my lesser responsible times and I could narrate it pretty decently too.
My brother loved to listen to stories. I would tell him stories ranging from Tinkle to Mario Puzo to Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer and anything which I thought was interesting. He would listen to them patiently. Sometimes I might not have finished reading the book, but he would want to hear half of it and the rest after I finish it. He used to manage his sleep timings in such a way so as to go to bed around the same I also do, so that he could listen to stories. Sometimes I would be so engrossed in the story telling that I wouldn't realize he has slept off and those small hands are hugging me. Sometimes the story would be so gripping I can feel him gripping my hands. There have been times when he kicked me when he didn't like the villain in the novel. My mom has woke up at the middle of the night coming to my room and asking whats the murmur going on inside. When we have a family get together and somebody mentions a book, my brother who was very young even then would get up and say I know the story to people's astonishment. I would secretly be glad.
I didn't think this would have any impact on him. Everybody likes to listen to stories. But when he was in the 9th standard, he read the 'Godfather' because he thought it was one of the best stories he has ever heard and that he would like to read it himself. I couldn't be more happy. A few days back when I was getting back from an unusually weary day, I received a text message from my brother asking me if I have read 'The God of Small Things' to which I replied, yes. His reply was “How can people write like this, its so bloody awesome”. It might be the pride of a brother who finds his younger brother growing up, it might be the secret pride that its me who introduced him to the world of books and stories...but I felt so damn good!
I don't know how much my brother misses listening to me or if he even remembers, but I miss my li'l brother who was quite shaken for a day or two when I left for Hyderabad to pursue my MA. More than my mom or my dad, he was the most affected. After all, it was a time when he was still in school and I was his best friend...