Samir was my favourite brother – 5 years elder to me, the protective sibling, and the one who would trouble me the most. My summer vacations were mostly spent in Pune and Ahmednagar and for most of these vacations he was my companion. His love for war movies rubbed onto me and he narrated many a stories he had read to me over our late night chats. He was fun-loving and full of life and he was one of the reasons my childhood was special. As we grew up and my vacations reduced , letters took over our lives. We wrote to each other every month – me going from school to college, experiencing crushes, anxiety over my studies, failing ,struggling and he going through his own battles. We continued to write and share our secrets cause my studies prevented me from long vacations and meeting up regularly. And then in May 2001, all those letters stopped.
Despite being so close he never mentioned the losing battle he was fighting, my mom and aunts told me much later when his war was a lost cause; we were all helpless. I did not know how to react to the news, I did not know how to reach out to him and talk. I did not know what I could do to help. We last met at my cousin’s marriage and I have wonderful memories from the time we shared together. Joking, laughing, teasing, discussing our non-existent love lives, talking late into the night and re-living our childhood days. I promised to come and spend time with him once my final year exams were over. I could never keep that promise because Sam did not make it to the end of my final year. He finally gave up after fighting blood cancer. I did not get to see him in his last moments because I was writing my exams and my family did not tell me as they knew it would leave me disturbed. I was told 2 weeks later and all I felt was numbness all over. How was I supposed to react to my brother’s death? He was only 25! I don’t know how my aunt and uncle coped up with his loss, or how his elder sister and brother faced his demise – he the baby of the family and the life of the house and he was no more. We all knew his cancer was not curable, but despite knowing this fact we were never prepared, how do you prepare for your child’s death who has not even started to live his own life? I never cried out loud over his death and I have not had the courage to talk about him at length until today. All these years I have just grieved silently, all those unwritten letters piled up in a corner of my mind for the last 13 years – of stories and secrets that I never got to share with him.
First I had lost my father when I was 17 and then few years later I lost Sam. They say you get over the death of your loved ones, you have to move on, yes you move on – 99% of the time. That 1% though will stay with you forever, till you breath your last. It is the truth no one dares to tell you – thinking that it will break you. But you are broken, and that is a fact. You will bandage your heart and mind and carry on; but the wounds will stay fresh deep, deep within your mind and heart. You will deal with most of the demons that surround the demise of your loved one but there will always be some that will haunt you for life. It made me very strong – emotionally – coping up with the loss of my favourite people; but it also left me vulnerable. I don’t show that aspect of my side ever and I don’t talk about it. But today here I’m – writing about it on my blog – for strangers to come and read; opening my heart out because the last week brought back those haunting memories that I thought I had buried for long.
Cricket is my first love, cricket is my anti-depressant , cricket is my comfort zone, cricket is the one thing that never fails to bring me unfathomable joy – it has given me heartbreaks but it has made me smile a million times more. But the last week it shove the inevitable truth of life right into my face. My life has taught me enough about death – facing it, dealing with it, the emotional drain it causes, the strength you need to pick up the shattered pieces of your life and build it again. I did not need cricket to teach this to me all over again.
Phil Hughes was doing what he loves most – playing cricket ; batting on the 22 yard pitch. Sport is supposed to be fun, it is not supposed to claim lives. Sport has its own dangers but death is not supposed to be one of them!. Phillip Hughes like my brother Sam was only 25. A life – a great sporting career lay ahead of him and it was cut short. I have struggled to accept he is no more. I did not know him, I have watched very little of him – but he played a sport I have so loved. A sport my papa taught me to love. So how did this beautiful game become the cause of Hughes death?
I don’t know how will anyone console his parents or his sister, how will anyone console his team-mates, how will anyone console Sean Abbott and how will anyone console the fans of this game? I know they will get the strength from unknown quarters, gather up the pieces and move on. They will be strong and will face it but I hate to tell you that it will not be easy. I know it because I experience it everyday, every single moment of my life; years pass by and it is never easy!
I have experienced many wonderful moments in my life and when I’m alone I can’t but help think – wonder what Papa would have said , wonder how he would have reacted? Maybe if Sam was around we would have laughed over some of them and he would have teased me! The What-Ifs – that is the 1% I’m talking about – that stays with you in every moment you experience without your loved ones. The picture, the moment always stays incomplete no matter how hard you try!
And that will stay with all of us cricket fans for the rest of our lives now – the cricket that follows from now on will always be incomplete. RIP Phillip Hughes – you will live on in our memory forever.