She figured early in life that it wouldn’t be a cakewalk. Born to a family that had hoped for a boy wouldn’t give her a bed of roses to begin with. That, at least was assured. She came to know later that her grandmother didn’t even come to see her at the nursing home where she laid naked and a tad undernourished. Her other grandmother has cried hearing the news and lamented that this child would also have to suffer childbirth pangs that her daughter has just gone through. Yes, hers was a painfully long labour, but unfortunately she was too tiny and helpless to lessen the pain for her mother even if she willed it. Therefore her life began among cultivated and engineered acceptance from her family. In the beginning, she, of course was oblivious to it and greeted everyone irrespectively with a broad grin. Her early world revolved around her mother and growing up as a cherub toddler she won over her family comprising of several uncles and aunts and two sets of grandparents and an odd great grandmother thrown in.
Just when she was getting a chance at their exclusive affection and charming them with her congeniality, her world turned around once more. Along came a brother. A son, whose arrival was befittingly celebrated. Looking at the plump rosy face of the baby wrapped in a blue sheet with whispy golden brown ringlets around his face and two red dots for a mouth, she felt torn. And thus began the life long struggle to catch up and knowing she would never be good enough. The angelic infant grew to be a brilliant, gifted and utterly charming individual whose innocence would melt even the most hard-hearted. And of course she loved him. At times more than anything else. But there were days, not often but nevertheless there, when she felt oddly jealous. Of his brilliance, his charm and most of all his innocence. No one in this wide old earth was capable of anything but loving him. His name meant ‘infinite’ in Hindi and ‘highly-praised’ in Arabic and he lived up to both. She adored him and he looked towards her for sustenance. She became his counsel. She had, the ability to comfort, a pair of dependable shoulders and a head full of advice that stemmed from hard-learnt wisdom. She was the perfect foil for his oft-tormented brilliance. Nurturing it and basking in his reflected glory. He shared everything with her. From the coloured candy at childhood to sudden self doubts at various crossroads in his life. He was dependant and she felt elevated.
Then one day, at the peak of his brilliant young life, he decided to die. Taking the charade away from her. She was left once more, with nothing. Deprived even of a chance at ever catching up with him. At life or even at death.