It’s like watching someone you love get twisted, crushed, possessed by something so vile that you watch, helpless as it takes hold of them.
I go back into your earliest memories for comfort, when life was simpler, when my most pressing concerns were getting back home in time for dinner after playtime. I look at faded old photographs from dusty photo albums that make me close my eyes and in an instant, take me back to those times. I start to wonder, maybe, if things might have been different…but then things were different. They always had been, which is what contributed to making you so utterly fucked up. But then I never imagined you’d end up this way.
I looked up to you, you know that? From the time when I was a kid, when you’d write affectionately of me, your baby sister, in your diaries, ward off bullies, teach me how to read, give you your entire book collection to devour, laugh with me at our own inside jokes, grow to love the same kind of music and movies, and secretly order pizza when the folks were away. You were my rock. Though at times you seemed like a third parent, you’d be the one I’d look to when they’d be unreasonable, to stick up for me. I could tell you what I really thought, with no filter, and you’d understand. You’d accept me the way I was, which is the total opposite of what they want me to be.
Time flew past, and you went to college, and I really missed you, but I’d write letters, and come excitedly to the railway station to see you when you’d come home for the holidays. You’d bring mix tapes and old magazines which we’d pore over together, and tell me all about the crap you had to go through there.
I went through a lot of confusing changes in my young adolescent life back then, which I never understood, but I continued to be all that they wanted me to be – obedient, quiet, ‘ignoring’ bullies, until I broke. I didn’t even realize what was happening with me when I had my first brush with what men can really be like. But yeah, none of that was explained to me so I thought I had to hide it, felt ashamed. I didn’t think I could even turn to you.
Then college happened, and that was the very first time I discovered my own identity. Discovered that a lot of what I’d been brought up with was a lie, that the world isn’t anything like what I thought it was from my upbringing. And that’s when I fought. Fought against the facade I had put up throughout my young life because I was thought that what was ‘right’ was more important than what I really was. Neither you nor they liked my newfound confidence and blamed my newly formed views on you. Because according to them I was incapable of having a thought process or identity of my own, it just had to be your ‘influence’. And then the second incident happened, which left me even more devastated than before because I blamed myself yet again, especially when you and they said we should just ‘ignore it’. He was recently awarded for being the ‘Best Teacher’. I still have the emails.
But then I had my first real relationship, which started from your introduction, a fact you continue to emphasize to this day, as if that means you had ownership over it, and it makes me sad. I was happy, and free, for the first time in years. I knew they would not understand. I trusted you to keep it to yourself. And you completely broke it. Even though you were perfectly capable of hiding whatever things you were upto at the time. You drove an irreparable wedge between him and you when you called and threatened him just for being with me. When she locked me in the room to prevent me going to see him as I cried and screamed and struggled. When she called me a slut just for being with him.
That was when I realized we were truly different. That that ‘difference’ would lead you to express so much hate, so much anger, and so much ownership over my own life. And that was the first time I truly plunged into the depths of depression. I always had it, but it resurfaced with a vengeance. I wanted to run away, which is my first instinct – to remove myself from every situation or person that hurts me. And so I did, at the cost of my own health and sanity. Spent two years in the worst possible depths of my despair, while at the same time in my own strangely weird way, I felt free. Because I was away, away from the pain and the people that hurt me. I taught myself how to be alone. I wandered through the streets of Pondicherry, rediscovering my love for photography, cafes, and fashion. I faced unbelievable bullying and sexual harrassment, but I plodded on because for the first time I felt I wasn’t controlled. We didn’t speak for a year.
I went through a loss that shattered me to no end, while also shattering the illusion that there is such a thing as God, in 2011. And I ran, again. Moved to a new city, with my first job. When we made amends, and started sharing an apartment. I thought you had truly changed. I thought we’d have good times together, and tried to bury all the hurt I had from the past. I still had depression, but I was pretty darn good at hiding it. You see, I thought that it would go away on its own if I hid it long enough. But it didn’t, it still lurked and surfaced from time to time, which confused me. And then came that night when you terrified me beyond measure, over a simple, stupid fight and I heard the words ‘now I’m really going to kill you’ from your mouth, and felt a fear I’d never known before as you raised a plastic chair while looming in front of me. While you blocked the door as I told you I want to be alone for a while till you calm down, and held down my hands, hurting me badly in the process. I remember sobbing into the phone, and not being taken seriously by them, that you’re my brother after all, I must have provoked you. I remember then calling R and him being scared to death wondering if he should drive down and take me away from there.
The rest of the year was a blur, as I turned from victim to aggressor and nearly lost the love of my life, when I froze and was unable to focus or complete the simplest of tasks, when people at work ganged up against me, causing me to eventually lose my job too. I was broken completely. But I still had faith in you. I believed you were going through a terrible phase, which you really were at the time. I thought it was a one-time and that you’d be back soon, the brother I knew from my childhood.
In the past few years I’ve watched helplessly as you fell into possibly the worst kind of company online. I watched as a reasonable, fair and supportive you turned into a monster, spewing vitriol at strangers online from the comfort of your computer late at night. I watched on as you started getting into worse and worse company, and your world views took a 180 degree shift. I tolerated the hurtful, taunting memes you posted that demeaned women and minorities, as you defended the worst kinds of people, leaders and behaviour, watched as your inner hatred for yourself morphed into this unrecognizable shell of the person you once were.
When you met her, I was happy for you. Happy that maybe you’d now found happiness, that maybe she would make you see reason, that your life would be better because of her.
But it’s only gotten worse.
I mourn you. I mourn the man you once were, a good brother and a caring son. I wish you were a loving husband too, which I don’t doubt you must be, but it hurts so much to think of the true thoughts that lurk within you at this very moment.
I feel more helpless than ever, and though I don’t believe in any higher power, I hope with all my heart that you see reason someday. Because the you I knew is dead. And I feel like I can never bring him back.
For now, all I can do is put a smile on my face, and pretend everything is just amazing. The way I have my entire life.