It’s as if a bottle of soda water has been shaken and then opened. The soda water being my memories. And now it’s all surfacing, overflowing, too fast, too suddenly.
A slideshow has started in my mind. I can’t switch it off. I don’t want to switch it off.
Daanyaal… My little brother… He’s sitting, he’s crawling, he’s walking, and then he’s running. He’s starting to talk, starting to empty out cupboards, starting to mess around with toilet rolls, undoing them, tearing them. We’re going to the beach for the first time. He’s eating the sand, mum is stopping him. He’s laughing. He’s scribbling in my school books. I’m shouting him, he’s crying. He’s going to school for the first time, excited, nervous, happy. Grade 1. Grade 2. Grade 3. He’s a ray of sunshine only a storm can overpower. And then the storm comes. The storm always comes, it can’t be sunny forever. He’s scared, confused, hurt. He’s asking me questions, I’m not answering. Mum is telling him to go to his room. He’s screaming, angry. I tell him I’m going. He’s clinging to me, we’re crying. He’s telling me not to, but in the end, I do.
My phone vibrates. I pick it up.
Rameez: Say something plz
There are so many things I want to say, so many things I want to ask.
Why was he there, at my uncle’s place? What did he ask about me? What did Rameez tell him?
But, with shaking hands, I type 3 words.
Me: Is he okay?
Rameez: He looks okay..
Me: Rameez, I swear if you’re lying to me….
Rameez: Idk (I don’t know) why I even brought this up
Me: Rameez, please..
Rameez: Can we discuss this face to face and not via text?
Me: It’s like quarter to 4 in the morning Meez
Me: Amz is asleep
Me: And I don’t want her waking up again..
Rameez: Elaborate ‘again’
Rameez: I’m coming over
Rameez: C’ya in 5 mins
And he goes offline.
I call him.
“Hello you,” he answers, softly. “You couldn’t even wait 5 minutes to hear my voice, I feel special.”
I roll my eyes, even though he can’t see me. I want to point out that he greeted with hello and not salaam, like how he always does to me, but I don’t.
“Meez, please just stay at home,” I say, ignoring his comment.
His silent for a bit.
“Have you even slept, babe?” he asks.
“Don’t babe me,” I reply.
“Babe,” he teases, provoking me.
“Seriously, have you slept?” he asks, gently.
“Yeah..” I say, despondently.
“If you don’t want me to come over, it’s cool, I’ll see you tomorrow,” he says, understandingly.
“Just.. just talk to me, tell me stories. I need to get all this stuff off my mind,” I say, sighing.
And that’s exactly what he does.
Talks to me. Tells me stories of things he has done, places he has been.
And even though I’ve heard most of these stories before, they still interest me, amuse me, make me think, and most importantly, take my mind to a different place.
A less troubled, more peaceful, place.