‘It’s like snip… ‘ He said as his trembling hand barely mimicked the action. ‘Just like that, it seems, life ends.’
Our little sister, barely holding her sobs, runs out of the room in horror. Her cries are no more silent. But he doesn’t look apologetic, not even when our parents, too pale in fear of the inevitable rushing us all through what little time we still have left, peek inside. I want to scold him but we both know he is too spoiled to listen to me. Still, I have the duty to try. ‘Try to be a little…’ Of course, he doesn’t let me finish.
‘Sensitive. Yes, yes. Heard that one before.’ He interrupts. And then, with a seriousness – that I hate far more than any of his brash attitude – settling on his face, he continues. ‘I can bet you bro that she will forget this. She will forgive me for this and that is what I cannot accept.’ He looks boldly at me in the eye and try as I might, I cannot deny him this fact. ‘The dead are idolized. I want to live.’
He pauses as the words begin to hover in the air all around us, almost suffocating both of us in the tension it creates. ‘I don’t…’ His voice breaks as the child finally breaks through his cover and I hold him and let him cry into my shirt while he keeps repeating the one wish. But though I am willing to fight anyone who scares my younger brother, I cannot defeat this.
‘I wish… I wish I could do something.’ I uselessly moan but the words are like a reason to stop crying because, despite few hiccups, he stops and stares at me intently.
‘Are you really?’ I nod. ‘Will you fulfill this last wish for me then?’ There isn’t a pause before I reply.
‘Whenever you remember me when I’m gone,’ he chokes up at the words, ‘I also want you to mentally remember a reason why I am not perfect. It was something a nurse told me last night. That I would be lucky to stay perfect in memories as my mistakes and faults are forgotten after death.’ Looking at me with absolute sincerity, though there is grim acceptance there as well, he adds, ‘I never wanted to be perfect. So, will you siblings of mine, promise me this?’
It is only his reference to multiple people that makes me realize that I am not alone. Our little sister, I turn to see, is nodding silently even as tears fall. I face him again and nod.
‘Good then. Please call everyone in. I think it’s time. I just want to see them again.’
Our sister gasps before running out with a scream to call our parents and other relatives inside as I hear my brother begin to hum a song we loved once. Of course, the memory attached to the song turns a lot more mournful after this moment.
And just like that, in the presence of everyone who loved him, my brother leaves the world. His final mumbling of the lyrics, though, stays with me – possibly to the end of my days.
‘And we keep driving into the night.
It’s a late goodbye…
Such a late goodbye.’