His Absence

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It was a day like any other, with one difference. It was our nineteenth birthday. We were so ecstatic at having entered the last of our teen years.

But then everything tarnished, all our hopes, all our dreams….everything. Looking back, it all seems so unbelievable, as if it had never happened in our lives, as if it was unreal, a figment…….but such weak hopes that I harbour, meet their end when the deep void in my life hurts so bad that I can no longer ignore it.

Five years earlier, on the eighteenth of October, when he had led me towards our oak dining table that was laden with my favourite Chocolate Alaska Cake and all the sweet and savoury delights that one can think of, the ground had shook horribly. It seemed as if the ground was dancing……It was…..It was quite terrible.
The shaking had continued for good two minutes, while the crockery, our late mother’s pride, fell to the ground in bits and pieces. The pictures lining our living-room wall, memoirs of our long dead parents, also met their end. When this seemingly never-ending nightmare finally ended, he went on to switch on the radio, which was reporting an earthquake of an extremely high magnitude, along with issuing warnings of evacuation in areas near the sea in view of the tsunami threat.

We had hurriedly packed a few of our belongings and started our journey towards an unknown destination…..and all this time I had been thinking how euphoric we both had been and now minutes later our worry knew no bounds.

He, however, was quite calm and composed. His expressions betrayed no signs of nervousness, let alone fear. Infact, he seemed to be enjoying the pitter patter of the rain that was now pouring upon us.

As we had silently driven along the wet road, a flash of lightning, accompanied by another series of earthquake occurred………and that was it! Our car had hit the pavement; a street light was on his head. Where his ear had once been, there was now blood oozing out of it, as if the life within him was seeping out, slowly and painfully.

I really don’t remember what happened then……..it is all so vague now…..but yes, a few people, presumably those who too were running for their lives as we had been, came to our aid like angels from heaven.

We were driven to the hospital. He, after initial treatment, was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit, where he slipped into coma. Now that I think of it, I sometimes wonder if this was his own way of preparing me for what was to come. I think it was, for two days later, he died.

Aden died.

How I passed those days, I can’t imagine. If I say I was devastated, then it is a very infinitesimal feeling.

Even now when I walk past all the places where we had been together, the breeze pinches my face, bringing back old, sad memories; memories which I want to forget and yet remember…….but how can I forget Aden, my soul, my hope, my twin brother……

Life is like a hollow shell for me now. When I knock at this shell, old memories come floating out, echoing my screams, my thoughts, and my fears of living alone. Alone………this word is the foundation of my life.

Looking back at my life, those happy days are reflected in my mind; those happy days when Aden and me made plans for our future…….but who knew what the future held for us in store, who knew what God held for us in store!

Five years later, I still cannot fathom how to move on, how to forget the untimely death of the man who was not only my brother, but my twin brother; the first man in my life…..on whom I had built all my ideals, who was the centre of my entire universe. I guess I just have to live with it, like a soldier who lives with the scars of his wounds from a battle.
People don’t understand why I am still grieving my loss, why I haven’t moved on with my life despite a flourishing career as a journalist. They slip into boredom despite them trying their best to put up a façade of interest, sympathy and even pity, if I dare to share my feelings with them……..personal tragedies and losses is not what everyone can understand. They want action, adventure; and I don’t blame them. Why bother yourself with other people’s emotional baggage when you have your own troubles to bear.

Yesterday was my birthday, “our birthday”, and also his death anniversary.

Everything looked the same, but I knew nothing would ever be the same again.


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