‘I of­ten wished my­self away in­stead of my brother’

Tehelka - - BOOKS -

AS A six-year-old I saw my kid brother, all of four, bat­tle an ex­cru­ci­at­ing can­cer of the eye and a year later, suc­cumb­ing to it. His death had a huge im­pact on me. I was the sec­ond girl child in a well-ed­u­cated and pro­gres­sive fam­ily. No one in my fam­ily ever made me feel un­com­fort­able but I of­ten went on my own guilt trips. Thanks to the so­ci­ety’s ob­ses­sion with the male child, I of­ten wished my­self away, think­ing it would have been the fairest thing to have hap­pened to my par­ents.

I vividly re­mem­ber the day my brother died; his body kept in a room filled with in­cense, and my mom in an­other room, al­most un­con­scious. My par­ents tried very hard to save my brother’s life. Of course, I was too young at that time to un­der­stand the mean­ing of “death,” but I re­mem­ber go­ing up to my mother and telling her, “I should have gone in­stead.”

The next few years of my life were as nor­mal as they could be. We never spoke about my brother even on his

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