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ODE TO MY BROTHER (On his birthday)



FOR I HAVE GIVEN MY WORD

Ali,
today I sit on the brick bench of the house,
where I am struck with an unending emptiness.
I remember how we used to play at this hour,
and the breeze caressed us and said,
“Love your brotherhood, boys, love your brotherhood.”

Now I shall go and hide
as before, from any admonishing,
and I trust you not to give me away
through the gardens,
the entrance,
the corridors
And later, you hide,
and I promise not to give you away too,
I sincerely promise.
Remember,
how we made ourselves cry my little brother,
from so much laughing!

And then, I went into hiding
one day, just like that,
but, instead of chuckling, you were sad.
And your twin heart, it grew anxious
of those dead evenings
grew annoyed at not finding me.
And now
a shadow falls on my soul.

Listen, Ali, please don’t be late
coming out to get me, all right?
For without you,
your elder brother might just be away,
lost,
from the cry of laughter.
So just come and get me, Ali.
Please.
Just come and get me,
soon,
all right…
because this unending emptiness
is making me sad
and lonely!
For I have given my word
that only death
will take me from you.

~ Farahdeen 


When I had finished writing that poem for my younger brother Ali, who’s birthday happens to be today, I quite miraculously found in my library an edition of A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean that I was most earnestly hunting for since a year to no luck. It was tucked behind some large volumes of old leather-bound dictionaries that belonged to my grandfather, and in moving them to find something else, I chanced upon this book glancing back at me with such glee. The timeless words of Maclean I was looking for are thus:

“Yet even in the loneliness of the canyon I knew there were others like me who had brothers they did not understand but wanted to help. We are probably those referred to as “our brother’s keepers,” possessed of one of the oldest and possible one of the most futile and certainly one of the most haunting instincts. It will not let us go.” 
 

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