You were my life's first tragedy.
And even though I know now that you will not be the last, I also know that each new sadness brings with it a well of strength. Strength that keeps us moving - swimming - because we know that the consequence is simply to close our eyes, and sink. And you taught us that sinking was not an option. Because no matter how much you want to give up, there is someone out there depending on you to be there for them. And just because fates have let you down, is no reason for you to repeat the favor. So we stood. All together. On murky quicksand. And held each others hand and helped all of us make it through. And became so much closer to each other in the process. No matter what your differences as people, it is true that there is nothing that forges stronger familial bonds than shared pain.
The pain of an October morning when you get a phone call and for the first time of two you just 'know'. You know your world has changed. They refused to believe you were gone. They kept insisting you 'fell'. Kept calming my hysterical 'Why-can't-I-get-through-to-him' with an 'It's-probably-a-network-issue'. As it happened, you did fall. And broke into many-many-pieces. Later, they said we should be grateful that they found you - because there were so many under that rubble that never emerged - that you were intact - because they found it difficult to put together some of what they found into whole-dead-people - and that we were able to take your body away and lay you to rest instead of waiting for interminable days wishing and praying and hoping that you were actually alive inside that concrete disaster. They said, when they buried you, you looked at peace.
I think they were wrong. How could you be at peace when you had so much to do? How could somebody as vibrant, strong and beautifully-alive as my Salman be content with being manhandled by strangers, and laid to rest in a shallow grave without having achieved an iota of what he was destined for? What is ironic though, is that if you had lived, you would probably have been one of the first to run back into the falling debris. To get as many people out as possible without any thought for your own self. Because that was the kind of person you were. Always the hero. Always the show-off. Always the competitive-over-achiever. What did you think? That life was some sort of a race to the finish and that if you ended it first you won? And we lost?
Because, my love, that's pretty much exactly how it might be.
It's been eight long years. So much has happened since then. Which, if you actually bothered to look down and spy-on-us-a-little bit you would know all about. I hope you do spy on us - because that would mean you miss us a fraction of how much we miss you. Even though you're probably living an exciting after-life. And we. Well, we will be with you someday, once we've traveled down the path we're meant to. Frankly, I really don't know who got the shorter end of the stick.
I know I'm ranting. And I know I'm angry. Because what else can you be when your sibling is so inconsiderate as to die on you without even thinking twice about the unfillable hole he is leaving behind? Did you even once think about me (or any of us) when you made that mad dash to that goddamn emergency exit? Yes, you're dead and gone. And that's (not) fine. But what about us that have to live with the heartbreak? The old family photos, the many-many memories, the love that will never die but instead will get re-directed to the boy who did live. And who bears an uncanny resemblance to you. Who I love doubly more because in being there for him, in being his Apa I feel (or maybe I just hope) that in some way I can make it up you for letting you down. For not being there when it happened. For not being able to help. For not being able to hold your hand, or see your face, or say good-bye. For swimming through.
For being alive.