Dear Love,

Thirteen years have passed by…much has changed and hardly anything. All your friends are married ( happily or not is debatable) and have made the cutest babies. You would have gone ga ga over all of them and they would have loved you, like all kids love Mum and you. ‘Chi chi, chi chi’, you would have said, touched them on their chin, smiled and you would have won them for life, like you did me! I know I’m not a kid but it made the crying stop!

So many of our loved ones have joined you over the past year. I suspect our parents are in cue too. Our relative is drinking like he does, non stop day and night, the other one has abused her body, too. If I say this to the father he says, ‘how do you know you will not go before me?’. Point. Vaisse kuch pata nahin he! I suspect there’s something the matter with the heart. Death and I have a deal…now that I’m going to turn 40, for the first time in a long time, I’ve asked it to wait a few months, incase it’s my turn. I just want to know what all the damn fuss is about!

Missed you a lot the past year. Whenever something funny or crazy or fabulous or hurtful happens, I miss you. When people are sick or they die, I miss you. Whenever the parents are going on and on, I miss you. A couple of months ago our relative got hammered stood outside the gate, looked at your name and yelled for five minutes,’you’ll never be Jaswin Kochar, do you understand, never?’ It went on for a while. I just stood outside, perplexed looking towards the sky wondering, ‘how the fuck do I not hate you, bastard?’ You’ve been gone thirteen years, to be compared to you when you were alive, you being the puttar I kind of accepted (like all our sisters have). To be fair, when you scared friends when you were younger and girlfriends when you were older with, ‘I’ll call my sister…tell my sister…my sister is saying’, then my personality was also always like this. To love you was so much easier, you were more pleasant on the eyes and definitely more pleasant on the ears. But I’ve always wondered how, that never made me jealous and hateful towards you. Then I saw Dear Zindagi!

Forget this, as it is, it is a morbid day. So funny things. A couple of months ago Dad was saying something about someone’s son-in-law and I just said, ‘you shouldn’t say that, you never know what kind you’ll get!’ He promptly replied, ‘tum to akad bakad bumbe bo khel rahee ho, kiss ki lottery nikale gi, yeh to tumme bhi nahin patta!’ I laughed so hard and imagined you doing the same.

And then this happened. So there’s a boy I know, who brings me something each time he comes to meet me…a book, a small snack or a knick knack, there’s always something. It went on for a while and I got terribly confused. So one day I looked at him and said in my oh so subtle manner, ‘yeh kyaa ho raha he? Why are you doing all this?’ He looked at me very seriously and said, ‘it’s protection money!’ I did’nt get it. ‘Protection money, hafta dete hena gundo ko, wohi de raha hu!’ ‘Who am I protecting you from?’ I asked still baffled. ‘Tumhare kehar se, I need protection from your anger!’ It was the funniest thing anyone has said to me about myself. I kept thinking if you were here, you would have had ten other things to add to this!

Oh and many a times, I curse you, ‘asshole why aren’t you here?’ I find myself asking. Like I did now, when Lily Masi drifted towards your side. I will forever feel bad that I couldn’t go for her cremation because someone needed to be with Mum. Kabhi kabhi khyaal aata he, tum naalayak to masti karke chalte bane, koi pandu se shaadi karli hoti, aise time pe kaam to aa jaata! It’s just a fleeting thought, don’t worry I ain’t acting on it, just yet!

Many a times, when I look at the parents I find myself thinking, ‘you lucky bastard’, you don’t have to watch them get sick, be heartbroken or die. After many years I have the answer to the question, our relative asked me when you passed away, ‘why couldn’t it have been you?’ Well because each time you were in trouble, I was supposed to bail you out. How would you have managed, na?