This memory is very clear - I remember seeing glimpses of the tiny baby through the bars of the metal cradle, sleeping on his side, fists folded ... as my mother lay on the bed beside him still unconscious after the C section.
The year was 1982 and my littlest brother had just wriggled his way into our near-perfect world.
I remember mom going to the hospital, although the exact time frames are a blur.
I remember climbing on a table in the room as she sat eating dal-chawal for lunch one afternoon before he was born despite her gentle warnings not to do so. Eventually, the badly balanced table tottered to one side and fell, and I slipped off it, just in time. Meanwhile the water flask (a tall squeezy 'imported' one) slipped off as well and we heard the shattering of the glass inside it.
I remember my grandmother losing her cool but I also remember maa embracing me, shielding me from any more verbal onslaughts.
I remember being called home early from school one day, when she was hospitalised. I remember hearing my father talk to his elder brother in Bombay informing him that she had gone into labour and that he would be leaving for the hospital 10 kms away.
I remember maa being wheeled into surgery because the very senior doctor who had also delivered my other brother five years before told us that the umbilical cord was wound around the neck of the baby and a surgery was necessary. I remember her words "Mr Goyal I may have to choose between mother and child" and I remember dad saying "Choose my wife" or some such....
I remember climbing the window sills of the hospital, the narrow benches in long corridors with an office staff for company as tense moments passed, my brother was born and my mother safely wheeled back into the room.
I was eight when he was born. Old enough to remember a lot and young enough to forget a lot.
What I do clearly remember is how much fun it was to have a toy-like living being in our midst. We bathed him, taught him to speak, recorded his blabbers on tape...and I dropped him off to the nearby Nursery School with the pride only an elder sister could exhibit.
Sharing a room with two boys often left me mad and I remember asking mom why she wanted 'another' son :-) Why could I not have a sister like my other friends? Their boy games irritated me and the presence of cars, GI Joe's, guns and the like made me rave and rant.
Of course there were some incredibly funny moments that I remember to this day - Both brothers were playing daaku and police. Rahul who idolised Amitabh Bachan was ALWAYS Inspector Vijay in their role playing (armed with a gun in a khakhi police uniform my mother bought him). The younger one was the daaku, the menacing dacoit who shouted from one end of the corridor during their fast paced chase scene, "Inspector Vijay come out right now. I've captured your sister!!!" (Inspector Vijay bahaar aaja, teri behen mere kabze mein hai.)
We were close in many ways... Even after I left for college I would come back home and complete his science projects. He would discuss the in-talk about girl friends with me, sharing secrets he dared not discuss with mom. He was the first family member to meet my hubby when I was dating him.
Many years later I would watch him metamorphose into a thinking being...a man, capable of living alone, managing his finances and life, falling in love and having the fortitude to see it through.
Now he is getting married.
As we welcome his chosen life partner into our family I can't help but marvel at the time that has lapsed because every memory is so fresh...and I can't tell him what it means to me to watch as he moves into another phase of his life.
All I can say is Congratulations bro..You did well :-)