The Death of My Brother

By Sabah Carrim

I mourn you, my Brother.

Memories of a few of the most wonderful moments of my life feature you as their protagonist. You were not only my Brother, but my best friend, in a relationship soldered with love, tenderness, and intense affection. Our partnership was so firmly bound that you were as close to my heart as the two middle fingers on my right hand. Now, all that remains of us are memories, and as I reminisce on those joyful moments of my life, I wish the minutes had not ticked away so fast. But beyond this typical, natural response to the disappearance of a loved one, greater than that wistful feeling, lies an unimaginable extent of pain and torment because I lost you like no other sister did.

Before I end with the final full stop, Beloved Brother, please hear my words and listen to our story, the story of you and me, Brother and Sister, valiant, inseparable, forever one.

Same cactus, but different thorns. Same flower, but different fruit. That’s who we were, you and I, Dear Brother. Yes, our existence was symbiotic. As your ‘little sister’, I was taught and programmed to follow your orders and I did, obediently at first and then rebelliously, wondering why you were always right and I not. Yet during this tumultuous siblinghood, we still clung together like oysters, protecting each other whenever there were ‘attacks from alien territories’. Sometimes, while sharing my grouses with you, you’d coach me lovingly into dealing with them bravely and dignifiedly. You earned my respect.

I still recall those days, wearing my blue and white uniform, planning those rendezvous with you after school, so that we could both ‘check out’ the other school kids while heading to Pizza Hut, for a meal we were not even half interested in. While walking with you and coming across my friends, I’d proudly introduce them to you, my Brother…not because you were renowned for your laudable grades at school, but because I knew I was special to have a brother so obviously close to me, as you and I were back then, Beloved Brother.

As we grew older and our hearts extended their attention and affections to other people, I became your most trusted confidante. Remember, Dear Brother, those days when you by-hearted “Crying in the rain” because it reminded you of her, and would sing it in a voice that could make Chicken Little’s omen come true. Remember those silly expressions you would put on when talking about her to me. That was you, Dear Brother, and that was me, your little sister.

There were times, Beloved Brother, when you and I were invited to birthdays, weddings, and other parties, and because we didn’t know anyone there, we would stay with each other and engage in mind-blowing conversations about Physics and Life. We would then go home, fully contented at having spent a great evening out.

And how could I possibly forget those days when we would walk on the beach together on Sundays, and you’d tell me about your dreams and aspirations, and spend the rest of those moments teaching me the little things of life?

Yesterday I went back to the same beach, and as I was lying down there, gazing intently into the blueness of the sea, someone who looked just like you passed by me. He enquired why I was sitting there alone, doing nothing. It could not have been you Dear Brother, because if you and I were together, we would have rushed into the sea and attempted all the breath-taking sports to our heart’s content until the day melted into darkness. Like in the old times.

Do you remember, Beloved Brother, how I rushed into your room one day and fell down, hurting my head? You sprang to your knees, worried, concerned, and massaged my head tenderly, trying to soothe the pain, speaking kind words to me to calm me down. I remember that moment vividly, Dear Brother. My distress vanished through the warmth of your voice.

Yesterday, I fell again, heads on my knees and arms on the cold, bare floor somewhere. I caught sight of someone who looked just like you, but it could not have been you. If you had been there, Dear Brother, you would have rushed to me, and held me, and asked me if I was okay. But that person was sitting right there, with no expression, no exclamation, just frigid and indifferent. At that moment, Dear Brother, I could only think of you, and the cry I let out came not from the shock and pain of the fall, but from the heart-wrenching thought of your loss. If my pain could be dug out and piled up, it would never fill an unending abyss.

Now you’re gone, and you have left me all alone in a world filled with hungry wolves, where I’m the frightened little lamb looking for a friend like you to team up with. There were always two pairs of footprints in the sand, one beside the other, yours beside mine. I see only one now. I would love to think they’re yours and that you are carrying me on your shoulders during this difficult period of my life, but I can’t fool myself any longer. You have gone away, and I mourn your death.

Mauritius, October 2004

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Sabah Carrim has authored two novels Humeirah and Semi-Apes, both set in Mauritius where she was born. Her short stories have been selected in competitions organised by the Commonwealth Foundation (Plaine Verte) and Goethe Institute (Tara’s Hair). Recently, another story titled The Evil in Me was shortlisted for the 2019 Bristol Short Story Prize. The author would like to acknowledge the influence of the poem “Footprints in the Sand” over the ending of this piece.

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