Thursday, April 10, 2008

''I had you!''

My mother was reading a story in the paper aloud today, in shock - something about a 2.5 year old girl being dropped off by her school bus at the wrong bus stop, a couple of kilometers away from her home, and wandering around lost and scared. Thankfully, she was returned home safely after a shopkeeper spotted her passing his shop several times, and her father's number was found in some diary in her bag, or something like that. I barely had time to wonder what a 2.5 year old was doing in a school bus in the first place, when I suddenly had a flashback.

I wrote a post about early memories earlier, but omitted to mention this one which is also a vivid early memory - it was one of my first days in the 'big school'- and at the end of the school day, ''Nisha Ma'am'' escorted me to my bus to be dropped home. I was fine as long as she was around, because she was a very nice lady - but started to panic when she started to leave me, after depositing me in my seat in the bus. I think she then asked an older kid who looked absolutely gigantic to my 4 year-old self, but was probably just a regular skinny kid in the 10th class or something - to sit next to me, take care of me, and make sure I was bunged off at the right stop.

I remember how scared I was, blubbering with tears at all the noise and unfamiliar faces around me - and also remember how the fear eased up over the course of the short bus ride as that boy chatted with me and told me stories. My tears dried up and I became quite absorbed in what he was saying and soon I was at my bus stop and he helped me get off the bus and waved bye to me cheerfully. I was picked up by our maid Saraswati at the bus stop, and life was looking pretty good to me again.

I don't remember seeing ever seeing or recognizing that boy again, but he sure made a difference to me. Bus rides were never a problem again for me.

So anyway, I was thinking about all this, recounting the incident out loud to my mother and sister, and then I asked my sister about whether she had any such early memories, about the trauma of being a small kid going to a big school for the first time.

I was slightly irritated by her breezy answer 'Nope!'

All my irritation disappeared when she elaborated further on this with a highly matter-of-fact 'I had you, na!'

And it's true. I've bullied her, fought with her, made her run around for me far too much - and still do all of these things. But it's kind of good to know that when she thinks back to her earliest days, she remembers me looking out for her and says in all simplicity 'I had you, na!'

P.S - I've written this post for somebody I know who is expecting her second child soon, and has had some mixed feelings about the timing, finances, and overall practicality. Don't want to downplay any of those things, they are realities. But it's also a reality that there's nothing like having a sibling you can always count on. And of course, you know this already, but it's nice to remember it sometimes, anyway - right?


  1. aww... u're making me miss my bro more now!
    but it's true... even i don't recount being troubled, worried, ragged... anything. i always had big bro to fall back on. him being a bully to the others *never to me, tho* was only one aspect of it all.
    only downfall to that was in college - when the guys were too scared of HIM to talk to ME!

  2. My brother was much older, I don't think we ever even went to the same school, but I had my sister, two years my senior, who was there for me as you were for your sister.
    Such a delightful post. And what a nice big boy, who made a little girl so comfortable on that first bus journey!

  3. Even I had an incident like this when I was 3(I think)... Got dropped off in the wrong bus stop... Being the oldest in the family I had to look out for my kid sisters and we all went to the same school... Back then I used to feel bad that I was left to my own devices many times, while the little ones had the Big sis (me) to take care of them... But not now, as I realise that being the first born has made me more confident and independent :)...

    -- PR

  4. Oh, the years spent taking care of my younger sister on the way back from school. I used to hate her then. But of course, we are such friends now.

  5. Oh Y!! What a beautiful post!! Dont know who you meant it for but it sure made sense to me. Me who is an only child and is also chickening out and deciding to do the same for her son. I was so cat on the wall about this. Hoping this will bring me a little closer to a decision.

  6. Beautiful, beautiful post! I don't have words to describe what I am feeling so will shut up.

  7. You know what? I ddint remember myself but it was the same for me too! During our 2nd and 3rd standards in school, we used to have the afternoon shift with the boys and I now so clearly remember this boy Kishore who used to make sure I crossed the road and came back home together with him safely. Thanks to your post I'm going to say a little prayer for him today. Thanks!

  8. 'I had you, na!' - Wow! You are right! Theres nothing like a sibling to count on. Im reading so many posts on siblings these days and every single post is leaving me all teary eyed. Such a touching post, Y.

  9. Reminds me of the rides my younger sis and I took together :)

  10. As I'm sitting here feeling my baby kick inside me, this post is just making me so ..I don't know tearful? And sentimental.

    Whatever problems I've had with my own sibling, are all the by products of growing older, as kids she was my guardian too and the one person I knew who would take care of me.

    Nice post, a really thoughtful you to do it for your ambivalent friend.

  11. I know I'm comment quite late but then its ok I guess? :D

    About the 2.5 year old girl getting lost, my first thought was even if the bus wallah missed her stop, there must have been someone to pick her up there. And if the bus didn't stop or didn't arrive for 15 mins, why didn't they raise an alarm or start the search? Why did it take 1 hour for the parents or the person responsible to pick the girl to realise that the girl hasn't reached home and is missing??

    And they way they described in teh papers that the girl was so happily walking here and there with no tears made me feel that probably these are the kids of 21st century.

    I remember troubling my elder sisters a lot :) I guess will not write those incidents here else this comment will become a post in itself. But then I wonder if they felt having a sibling was an advantage ;o)

  12. Enjoyed reading this post, Y. Made me want to see my sister right now and tell her how much she means to me.


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