Saturday, July 21, 2007
No Pennies For These Thoughts. No Penny's Worth That Much
3rd july 2007. sometime at night. a regular phone call for me. one that i get every couple of days. the people that mean the world to me, making sure everything is fine. my health. the food. flying. we talk. the same way you tell someone who knows your schedule how the day went. silences in between. wondering what to say next. finally, all formalities aside, its time to hang up. and then i say it, without the least bit of realization. "goodnight Phenji". goodnight. phenji.
Phenji. a distant word. a regularity as a child, but something happened as i grew up. during the last 10 odd years. it became Harkiren this. Harkiren that. just, Harkiren. sister became a word i used to describe the alien life form living next door. the one that got me into trouble. the one that shared my parentage god knows how. everything seems like a lifetime away.
i went back to my room that night. thinking. realizing. the last memory i have of hugging her and calling her phenji as a child. the day Mataji and i picked her up from school in the Ford van we used to have. the school main gate. a rare occasion. mum always picked us up from the back gate. the one with a proper bus stop. i was sitting in the front row. behind the driver's seat. phenji comes in, and yells that she got 4 A's for UPSR. the day the results came out. Mataji reaches back from the front and hugs her. breaking apart, i remember her exact words. "aren't you going to hug your sister?". i do. along with a 'congratulations Phenji'. a forced hug. influenced by a 3rd person. a term i used at my parents request. that was my last memory. it hurt. to think that's all i had to offer as a 'brother'.
i tried saying it again the other day. during the next phone conversation. it never came. not a peep. that part of the sentence muted. like the word "morphin'" from the Power Rangers theme in our early days as kids for its resemblance to the drug. medical or not. so much for being easier the second time around. you know when its hard to say, that it means something. otherwise, it becomes just another word. that's all. a means of communication. no. not anymore. everything changes. from this moment on. i will prove my worth as a younger sibling. an idiot next door. a brother.
i don't care if it makes a difference for her. it may all sound the same. but i see Pitaji calling his sister's 'Peyna'. and i see that look in his eyes. and i think, that makes all the difference.