It's my brother's birthday today. A day before mine. He was promised to me as a birthday gift. But he was a man in a hurry right from the beginning. In fact he was born a few days before his due date. And I apparently well after mine. Which sums us up as people. We spent our birthdays together for the first time after ten years when the four of us went to Goa last year. He was on the phone with office most of the time. I had my out of office activated.
He is a day less than eight years younger than me. I had wanted a brother. So my dad and I had a hundred Rupee bet on whether he would be a boy or a girl. I got some hundred Rupees worth of toys and books thanks to him. That was a huge sum in the early eighties.
I remember that my dad took me to the restaurant at the Alipore Zoo which was close to Woodlands, the hospital where my brother was born. Sorry but I don't remember what we ate :).
I often used to wryly joke, when he used to bug my when we were kids, that he must have escaped from the nearby zoo and come into the hospital. You do take the moral high ground when you are eight years older. I did get to name him as the elder brother. Both his 'proper' name Siddhartha, and first nickname, Samrat (later shortened to Shomu by our grannie) were given by me. The logic being that he was born on Saturday. I looked to my friends who had names beginning with S for inspiration.
Dad and I went went to visit him and my mom at the hospital after that lunch. I gave my mom a chocolate. She was fasting after the delivery. We later heard that she had a bite despite the restrictions. And threw up. But that's us when it comes to food.
That was a long long time ago. Eventually I moved out of Calcutta and my brother finally got his own room.
I had idlis for breakfast this morning. Unlike the Infantaria breakfast on his birthday last year. Part of my 'go easy' plans before we hit the Piggy Land of Goa. But this was significant too. He used to love South Indian food as a kid. My mom and I used to tease him saying that he would marry a Tamilian or Madrasi as we used to say in those politically incorrect days. But I did see him digging into a crab last year.
Happy Birthday Shomu