I did not write the blog last few days because I could not. My brother, who was my constant companion for all my life, my partner in business, someone subjected to all my advice and my suggestions, decided to die. I could not write another post without first writing about him.
Lest I give the impression, it was not self-inflicted death. It was a combination of illness and depression, as well as his drinking habits and a recent abstinence, not least due to constant advice from our sister, my father and me. But, if retiring to death has any meaning, that was his. I was on the other end of the phone, listening to my tearful father who was all too aware of the inevitable meaning of his collapse long before a medical professional has seen to him. In a way, we all knew: He just gave up and retired into sleep.
I have never been so alone. As I said, he was my constant companion. When I started working and my office hours stretched late into evenings, he was the patient chauffeur who waited for hours on the sofas for me to finish work. Gradually, as I developed the reputation of being late at work, every member of my family refused any sort of pick-up request if I ever made one (I did not drive those days); except him, because he never missed a chance being with me. Finally, when I gave up my job and got into some sort of dotcom-fuelled entrepreneur career, he was naturally with me. In fact, when I left India exactly ten years ago, I wanted to go away from him – just to allow me space to do my own things, and I assumed that he grew up enough to take care of himself. I did not know how he felt: Perhaps, just as I feel now, abandoned.
He was an imperfect man. He was temperamental. He often lied. He became alcoholic towards the end. He had women's attention but always chose unwisely. He was a bit pampered by my mother, who always thought he would leave family and become an ascetic when he turns 37 (that’s what the astrologer said). I resented this, and laughed at my mother’s obsession of trying to make him happy. I preached principles, and hard work. I always judged him by own standards, and he failed on many counts.
Just that, as I know now, I missed quite a bit with my narrow ideas of principles and what a man should live for. I did not see how perfect a brother he was: He never ever failed me. While I resented his lateness in meetings, I forgot his constant patience. He forgave all my delinquencies, while I constantly preached at him. And, he left me not with a sense of regret, but the feeling of that sort of defeat which fulfils you and lets you know what you got wrong.
In his life, he has always beaten me in getting love and affection from everyone around us; in his death, he let me know how much he loved me. In his life, his imperfections came between us so many times; his death left me wiser and I know that did not matter. While he was alive, he was my only bond, my only love; by dying, he set me free.
Last time when we spoke, we had a disagreement. He said he is disappointed that I do not understand how unwell he was, and the fact that he was physically unable to make the visit to Mumbai that I was requesting him to do. He said he was sorry and I must make an attempt to understand that.
I now have to carry around my apologies for rest of my life.