Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sridhar - My Brother

This is about my brother Sridhar whom I have never met.  Yet I don't know why I am so fond of him.  I have only seen his photographs, and heard so much about him from my father and my mother.  No matter how many times I hear about him, it never fails to move me to tears.

 This is the story of my brother, Sridhar.  He was the third child born to my parents.  He was beautiful as a child, dearly loved by my parents and his elder siblings.  One cannot blame my parents for loving  him so much, more than they loved their other children. But nobody complained for he was loved by the whole family.
  He was very happy, till came the time for his separation from his beloved family.  My parents were constantly troubled by the frequent transfers that my father's army job entailed.  So my father decided to leave the children in one place, so that their schooling would not be disrupted constantly.  My matrenal grandmother was living in Madras with her other children.  It was decided that  my elder sister would be left under her care, and was admitted in a good school there.  My father also felt that by sending money for the education and the upkeep of his daughter, he would also in a way lighten the strain on my grandmother's financial position at that time.  He wanted to help her in some way, without making it look obivious. (that granny being his own aunt - my father had married his own cousin)

 Now the two boys , that is my my elder brother Patcha and the younger Sridhar were sent to live with my father's elder sister, who was also struggling to make ends meet, having lost her husband at a young age.  She was also living alone in Madras at that time.  So the boys were entrusted to her care.
 My father now thought he had done a fine job by leaving his kids in responsible hands, and that, at the same time,  the money sent for their upkeep would also indirectly help his needy kin.  My mother, as usual was not happy, and she criticised my father, saying that, he always did things with ulterior motives.  But she could also appreciate and understand the difficulties the children were having to face, with their constant moving.  But a mother's love for her kids cannot be felt in equal measure by the man.  Therefore, for all practical reasons my mother had to give in.

  Things were going well for the first 2 years : the children had settled in their respective homes.  My mother had another baby girl, who was now about a year old.  My parents would visit my sister and my brothers during the summer.  Everytime they came visiting, my brother Sridhar would beg them to take him away with them, promising he would never trouble them in any way. With a heavy heart , they had to leave him behind after every visit.  The little baby girl was so cute with curly hair and beautiful eyes, that my brother was totally in love with that baby doll.  He would play with her, look at her with amazement, and would keep asking my mother how come she looked so beautiful and adorable. Again he would start begging them to take him along with them, now that he had such a lovely fairy like sister to play with.

 However his pleadings and entreaties had to be refused gently yet firmly.  My father was really moved by the compulsions that life had put him through, but also mindful of his childrens' future and welfare, he had to turn his heart to stone.  The time had finally come for my parents to say good bye, but before leaving, my father took both my brothers to a toy shop and asked them to take whatever they wanted. My elder brother said he wanted the whole shop, for he liked everything in it.   Sridhar, on the other hand held my father's hand tightly saying, he did not want any toys, he wanted only his appa, amma and his baby sister, and he wanted to go home with them. "Take me with you, take me with you", he started crying miserably.  After pacifying him with great difficulty, promising to take all of them back with him on his next visit, my father left for Bombay with my mother and my sister.  He could not bear the idea of his children living away from him any longer---- he could not see the pain in his wife's eyes anymore, he would soon make arrangements to take them back with him.

 A month later, my parents got the news that Sridhar was seriously ill, with high fever, and had been admitted in the hospital.  My aunt sent word to my father to come to Madras immediately.  Before they could even board the plane there was another telegram saying that Sridhar was sinking rapidly. By the time they reached Madras, their beloved son had already left this world. Sridhar was diagonised as having meningitis, and since he was so young, just 9 years old, he could not survive the severe attack.

 It is totally unthinkable, the kind of pain the child must have gone through, both physical as well as mental, in not having his mother and father beside him, comforting him, with their tender touch, and showering him with the love he constantly yearned for.  My father had tears in his eyes as he described the softness of his child's hand if he was not dead, but just sleeping soundly....and  any time now he would wake up from his slumber, jumping and cry with joy " appa you have come to take me home with you."  It was the most unforgetable event in my parents life, and the most unforgiveable, an event that must have haunted my mother till her death and is still haunting my father.

 What he did was probably right at that time. Still, one cannot stop thinking and wondering perhaps if Sridhar had not been left in the care of others, maybe, my brother would still be alive this day.  Or even if he were to die he would have died under our care. It must have had such an impact on all of us in some sub-conscious level, I literally shudder thinking about it. Though we all move on in life, somewhere the impact has left a  deep scar in us, and every once in a while it bleeds.

 This story has been told by parents to me so many times, that it almost makes me feel as if I know this brother of mine very closely. I was born three years after his death, and when I was conceived, my mother had great hopes that, Sridhar would be born again, and this time nobody would ever be able to separate him from her. But alas, my parents were disappointed- they were not to have their son reborn, and I came into this world instead.  In this life time they were not destined to see their lost son again.  This time when my father had come home to stay with us, he once again related this story of my brother and as usual, we both had unshed tears in our eyes.

I thought, I must write about my dear sweet brother who may have left this world years ago, but is still living in our hearts.


  1. boss too touching n emotional yar..dont know what to is a bundle of experiences..good, bad, ugly...hmmmmm:)

  2. Words fail me. Very touching. Cannot even imagine the sorrow and guilt felt by your parents. May God give enough strength to you and your family.

  3. I am in tears. I am absolutely speechless. Good you wrote this.

    You are from Bangalore and also an aerobics instructor? You must be knowing Wanitha.

  4. Very touching. My dad was in army too and I have a similar story but would not post - does not courage like you to share so personal stuff

  5. Oh.. time.. time.. should heal.. but some feelings like this are hard to leave. My mother has a similar story of losing a brother in prime age... and... do visit my earlier blog on an "elegy to departed brother"

  6. My eyes are welling with tears just reading it. Can't imagine the pain and trauma your family must have gone through!

  7. This is simply touching!!
    In hindsight, we may regret
    certain things, but are
    powerless to change anything.
    The guilt and sadness remains
    a part of our life.
    Time is the best healer of course.
    God bless.

  8. How tragic...
    It pained me to read it and I am literally speechless now...

  9. Very touching!This is very impressive post!
    Be strong!I am deep believer.I think Your parents,family and You will see him in the next life!

  10. Nice to know Sridhar. It is a very moving experience.

  11. What a sad story... My heart goes out to all of you.

  12. I am so glad that I came by your blog. ITs so moving the picture you painted through your words. It must have been so hard for your family. Young impressionable minds scarred forever and the guilt and pain of your heart goes out to all of you.

  13. What a painful story for everyone involved.

    Thank you for sharing this; and thank you for visiting my blog.

  14. OHHH... Words Fail Me.........
    Hmmm..... While the family is definitely at a loss... I think Sridhar is a winner here. He had captured a more firm and permanent place in the hearts of all family members. While other children may enter the thoughts of the parents once in a while... Sridhar may be the one who would always be in their thoughts.

  15. How very heartbreaking. I can't imagine how painful this was and continues to be for your family.

  16. This is very tragic and I understand your pain having gone through something similar myself but I don't think I can ever talk about it.
    Hope you and your family finds peace

  17. Hi Rama!

    Thank you for visiting my blog! It is very nice to meet you!!

    This story was told so caring and so painful! I feel for you and for your Mom and Dad....your Dad was just doing what he thought was best for his sons and so he must have felt terrible.
    I'm sorry you never got to meet your brother but know that he is still a part of you!
    I am looking forward to getting to know you better and hearing about your life in India!


  18. Rama thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment . I am speechless after having read this .It is so tragic and words really fail me . Hugs .

  19. Thank you Rama, for visiting my work and leaving your feed back, nice to meet you here!
    Sridhar touched my heart and I have no words to describe how I am feeling right after reading this post, thanks for sharing Rama.. I still feel Sridhar was reborn in to the family as you for some reason.. the soul connection I am getting here is very strong and I do hope it is true.

  20. Oh Rama...this is heartbreaking! But I am sure writing about it not only makes it easier for you all, but immortalizes him!