Mon Frère 

My brother turned 12 last week. I couldn’t find the console I was looking for him, probably because I wanted to use it more than him. Divine justice, they say. I asked my mom if I could skip college next day, not granted as I had tuition after college. After all I couldn’t flunk Maths this semester. 

I was finding it hard to believe that my brother had turned 12. Even harder to believe that he would be becoming a teenager in a year. It’s a strange feeling, realizing that in a week he’ll be watching a midnight football match with me. He watched Bayern Munich play Real Madrid last night on the couch beside mine, and I sent him to bed when his team went behind. He ended up being late to school; I’ve been there. 

He’s grown pretty tall. He doesn’t need any help nowadays while fetching stuff from the high cupboards. He goes to play football wearing my old jerseys. He now has around 5-6 kits, I just have two which fit me. I probably will have to let him play with my friends in the summer. 

The thing about him that makes me feel the proudest as his elder brother is his knowledge of football already. I know it’s not the greatest thing to be proud of, but believe me, it’s a sense of satisfaction I can’t describe. The other day he watched Pione Sisto play for Celta Vigo and identified him as the man who scored at Old Trafford last February. At his age, I had only watched a World Cup and a Champions League final and knew only a handful of players.  I could only smile. 

I dug up some of his old photos on his birthday. Toothless smiles in Mandarmoni and Kalimpong, ponytailed in Delhi when he was just a year old, and his fifth birthday. I tried to recall some more memories of his childhood. I recalled mostly instances when I was scolded for his fault. I smiled all the same. 

He’s 12, but I’m glad he’s just 12, because it’s obviously going to get stranger from now on. He’ll grow taller, he’ll be awake on more Champions League nights with me. He’ll grow facial hair, probably even sooner than I’ll grow some. But he’ll always be the kid brother I love to bully and tease, but the person I definitely can’t spend a day without. He’s the person I love the most in the world and I’m glad I have him. 

I’m pretty glad I didn’t buy him the console. He would beat me hollow in Fifa pretty soon. I need to preserve whatever semblance of superiority I still retain. 

Happy Birthday again Chotku. 

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