Ah childhood! Dear childhood! The best times of our lives, times we cared for nothing except for skinned knees.. our heart broke if our new pencil was lost; and we thought not doing our homework was the worst thing that could happen to us.. How beautifully and innocently sculpted our little brains were.. I miss those times, wish I could turn back time and live back in my mother's lap, and care about absolute nothing.. !!
One of the luckiest things that could happen to you in life is, to have a happy childhood.
- Agatha Christie
Sure, I did have a happy, lovely childhood. Don't we all have fantasies when we are kids? Some fantasize about fairies, some about other cartoon creatures being brought to life.. While I was a very, very introvert child who rarely liked to speak, to play with other kids, and to even watch the cartoons, I used to sit and read. It is very difficult guessing I could have fantasies. But I did. And that fantasy is the most vivid of all. I have a younger brother, about 4 years younger to me... we used to play and talk and fight; just like siblings do. While he played outside and watched cartoons, I never did, and I was the shy kind.
I quite don't remember when I befriended this imaginary person. But I do remember I did. And but of course I never did go to any dreamlands with him in the real life, I suppose I saw vivid dreams of doing so, which I thought were real. I had an imaginary friend, a big man with golden wings. He was named "Bhai Naum" (no damn idea how this name crept up my mind, but I am absolutely sure I remember the correct name. He could fly and take his friends to wonderlands full of ice and snow, sometimes watery islands, other times green highlands, other times to the forests; where we could swing, play, dance and eat to our heart's content. There were no parents, nobody else to stop. Only me and Bhai Naum. And he never said a word. I only saw me being carried away to the dreamlands, but he told me he carried all his friends there on his back, but just one at a time.
While it was the greatest pleasure being at those dreamlands, there were trees, not the usual green trees; but trees of all beautiful sorts: cream trees, cake trees, ice-cream trees, chocolate trees of so many sorts, and of course candies always were lying on all the paths, which I picked and ate so very frequently. I used to be so happy in this world, but I always worried for my mother had warned me eating too many candies, cakes and chocolates shall destroy my teeth. While at those wonderlands, I ate to my heart's content every single time, I still remember some mornings my mother used to watch me with an extra level of concern as I used to brush my teeth twice/thrice as she waited for me to finish. She also worried why as a kid I never asked for ice creams, chocolates and cakes or candies (I actually never asked !!), because those dreamlands were so real for me that I used to think I have had a lot of treats that I should probably not eat any more. I was satisfied.
While my imaginary friend took me to all the places I wished for, he had trees on his back. Trees, not fruit trees, but he had two kinds of trees; chocolate trees on one wing, and lacy gift trees on another wing. I remember there were exactly 4 trees on each wing, and while I used to sit on his back before the flight, I could take some chocolates from the trees, and one gift box from the lacy gift tree.. those boxes contained gifts of all sorts: sometimes they had colouring books, sometimes they had puzzles for me, and sometimes reading books. During the journey, I could do those activities. He had also promised to always be my friend, take care of me and fight my enemies, or whoever troubled me.
I remember it was a hot afternoon, while we were having summer holidays from school and me and my brother were home alone with our grandmother. I don't remember what quite happened, but we broke into a big fight, just like siblings always do. He always used to beat me, because my parents always told me he is younger and I should not beat him, just complain. So I never beat him back. That day, he was beating me. After a while he stopped. Then something unusual happened. I told him about "Bhai Naum". I told him how he could fly. I told him how he was my best friend, how powerful he was and how he would take my revenge from him as he promised. And my brother got terrified. I mean really terrified. He was just a kid, so he became scared. He started crying. He asked for forgiveness. He said sorry a thousand times. Then I was happy. I scared him some further but he told me he would tell our parents about my friend. Oops! Now I got scared. But I just told him "Of course only his friends can see him, but if you promise to not hurt me again, I will ask him to forgive you", and he agreed.
That day onwards I was the boss. He was the quiet kind around me. He even let me watch the cartoons of my choice. He stopped beating me. He was the obedient (!!) little sibling. He even agreed to take out the dishes to the kitchen after lunch, while I relaxed like a queen. Even I was a kid so I didn't feel bad for him, and of course he never told anyone. He even did his homework and also helped me with my crafts homework (cutting and pasting) every week. Now this was a happy time; after all, who has this disciplined little siblings. But often he would ask me to bring chocolates for him, but I just could not. I tried to explain him that I cannot bring him anything. But now I started feeling bad for him, after all, he was my only brother and he was very dear to me; I loved him with all my heart and felt selfish for enjoying all those treats alone all this while. Now I started asking my friend to give me chocolates for my brother but he refused. I felt sad. I shouted and cried. I fought with him so many times over this. Then he stopped coming. Even I was angry, so I didn't care. But after some days, I started missing him. I used to call out his name at night when everyone was asleep; but alas! he never replied. I was sad, very sad. I could not understand why he was not visiting any more. I pleaded him to come, I even said sorry, but all in vain. He never turned up...
For weeks I missed him, but I never told my brother about this, because I was still hopeful he would turn up. And I never wanted my brother to take over me. Then my hopes started fading, and I begin to realize of some facts. I never felt full after eating those treats. I never really saw his face, just those wings on which I used to sit. Maybe I had seen those golden wings somewhere, in some book, or in some cartoons. I could not bring anything for anyone, even though I tried sneaking some chocolates in my pyjamas, I always found them empty the next morning. He never showed up before night. So I began to wonder: what if all of it was a dream? What is none of this is real? What if he never existed and what if I just made him up in my mind?? No no no no.. this can't be true; of course I'm wrong. He is out there, somewhere; he is just angry. But no. I was probably right and my thoughts about him being just imaginary began to strengthen up. And one night I was sure. And it broke my heart. And I cried. I cried a pool of tears. I quietly cried for a long while and somewhere along, I fell asleep..
The next morning I was sure he did not exist and while it broke my heart, I decided my brother should also know that he was just an imaginary friend of mine. I thought I would explain him everything, how I asked for chocolates from him and he refused, how he stopped coming and then I realized he just didn't exist. So when we were home alone, I called him out in a manner to confess. But the moment I uttered those words that there is actually NO "Bhai Naum"... he went mad. He went mad like anything and he punched me hard. Hard enough to make me cry. And then he bit me, and kicked, and pushed me; and beat me some more.. all the while muttering something about how he used to be so scared, how he gave me the remote, how he did my homework, how he took out the dishes everyday; and something else. All I remember clearly was that he beat me like a madman. He sure was angry like hell. And them he stormed out of the house. And I don't remember what happened after that day, but I never forgot the events of that day. I remember it was the last day of our summer vacations. I remember we had spinach for dinner that day. I remember we had new bags for the next day school, a green one for him, and a red one for me. I remember every single detail. Even if I got beaten that day, it will always be a special day in my memory. My brother is now 20- something, he is my best friend ever, and I'm not sure if he remembers all this.. But that day is still fresh in my memory.. and it shall always be special.. !!
|Me and my brother playing Scrabble.. 18 years ago..|