Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sridhar- My Brother & My Father And His Dilemma

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 maternal 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 the baby girl,(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 unforgettable event in my parents life, and the most unforgivable, 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.  Whenever my father relates this story of my brother and, relives the pain, we all  have 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.

This is also a tribute to my parents, who had to go through all kinds of difficult situations in life, making tough choices, some of them really heart wrenching. 
In fact it is a tribute to all parents who have plunged in wholeheartedly, into to totally uncharted waters just so  that their children were happy at any cost.
This story, brings out the sacrifice, the hardships, that many parents have gone through, in many different ways to be the best parents. Parents do things for their children, not with any expectation from them, they just do it because they are parents and love their children, unconditionally.

Happy Father's Day (Parents day)To All!!


  1. Happy Father's Day to your father, Rama! He is lucky to have such a wonderful, caring and soulfull daughter. I am sure this story is repeated with a change in details all over the world.

  2. OMG.I'm writing this comment blurry eyed.

    Truly, sometimes parents are caught in a catch-22 situation to earn well and provide well. I hope your bro reads this post of yours from heaven to know what lovely parents and siblings he has.

    A very touching post which made me teary eyed.

  3. Rama, what a heart-wrenching story. Thank you for sharing your brother's story with us. What tough decisions parents must make at times.

  4. My heartfelt sympathy for your family, for having to part with such a nice brother and son!
    Happy Father's Day to your father and indeed your husband!

  5. I just can't find the right words to write. So heart wrenching is the demise of a loved one in your absence. I lost my Mother the same way and shall probably repent it till my death. As you say, parents want the nest for the children and we seldom understand their sacrifices for our sake. May God grant Eternal Peace to Sridhar and Peace of mind to your Father. Happy Father's Day!

  6. Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to a parent the loss can never be fulfilled, may your father find peace and Happy Father's Day to him

  7. Wow Rama this brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your brother but I feel that the move everyone has for him did not let him go infact he is watching over you all. May god bless you and your family, Happy Father's Day to your DAD.

  8. I had the same emotions again today while I read this post long back,very fresh in mind. Happy father's day to your dad..hope I will get to meet him one day.

  9. a very emotional amma and her siblings went through the same separation pangs etc cos my thatha was in the Air Force. My mama and my amma's younger sister were left in thanjavur while my mom and my other chithi traveled with my hurts when my ammama tells me about the separation and all the emotional issues she has with my mama and my other chithi..those times were difficult and with one member of the family supporting an entire joint family, my grandparents dint seem to have a choice and as u said, did what they thought was best at that mama fell ill when he was 8 and lost his hearing. i should show this post to my amma..very painful times indeed!!

  10. What a sad story. I can't imagine the pain that your parents went through when they lost their son in such circumstances. Oh how, their hearts must have bled. They would have felt so guilty and burdened. Very painful. As a parent, I empathize with your parents. I also feel for your brother because my son is 9 years old now. How he must have cried himself to sleep those nights. How his little heart would have handled this rejection! Sometimes, the decisions we make as parents haunt us for a lifetime.

  11. sorry to know about your brother
    painful story

  12. Thanks everybody for your kind words. I am really touched by some the stories shared by some of you.
    Now a days, we as parents have lots of choices, we can somehow manage, but those times were different and difficult for everyone. We have so much to be thankful for, and I am happy that the present day parents have many choices.

  13. I have no idea what to comment. It is very sad for parents to lose a child especially when someone else was taking care of him. I am sure you dad felt guilty though his life. People say they move on but they learn to live with the grief.

    Happy Father's Day!

  14. Thanks for sharing. Life is hard and I am glad your parents told you the story.

  15. That was a really sad story Rama.I know that those days Meningitis had no vaccine and many kids siuffered this fatal diesease.

  16. I am sorry to hear what happened.. Parents do decide for the welfare of there kids, I dont know what your dad must have gone through ..

    As you mentioned now adays so many choices at that time there were less, I was too sent to a hostel to study but god willing it turned to be good for me ..

    I would hear my mum argue with day to bring me back, i thought dad was being stone hearted but no he was doing the best he could for me ..

    Thanks for sharing ..

  17. The pain. The suffering. The guilt. Ah. I have nothing to say.

  18. I have no words to say.As nothing said can ever come anywhere close to the pain your mother must have gone through and your dad having to live through it.My eyes watered , I feel for you .YOu must have gone through so much emotions when you wrote this post...emotions of anger , forgiveness, helplessness and so much more.I have my empathy.still we have to move on even though it is painful.We still find things to remember and hold on to good memories.Be a strength to your dad.

  19. Poor Sridhar, he filled my eyes.The real story has become a fiction.Nice.

  20. a lump in my throat and moist eyes..