I have been trying to write you something since morning, but getting entangled in this and that. Isn't this pathetic, that I cannot find time and words for you, on your birthday? But then, we have never been the weepy-huggy brother and sister, have we? We have never needed to give a proof of how much we love each other. We have just been there for each other, standing by the side, silently, knowingly, protectively, all our lives. There have been periods when we have not talked for months, not seen each other for years, yet the bond has not weakened even slightly. In fact, as we have grown and flourished, and often stumbled in the world, we have looked at each other for support, for appreciation, for advice and received all that and much more just when we needed it.
Do you know how I always remember you? To me you are not the successful, ambitious executive that you are now. Neither are you the teenager who was pushed into adulthood a little too soon, to shoulder the burden of life. I see you as my big little brother with a shock of unruly, curly hair, a mark shaped like moon on your forehead, wearing a colorful, printed shirt, your thin legs shooting out of blue school shorts, frolicking and whipping the sunflowers on the banks of the Tigris. And, I would be running right behind you - a gawky, scrawny child, with bushy brown hair blowing in the wind, my eyes half closed with glee. I revered you then, and tried to mimic every act of yours. I would gladly be your accomplice, your assistant, in whatever you chose to do.
You were always the good one - God's own child; Loved, respected, appreciated by one and all. And me? I was wild! I never resented you for being the nice kid, but somewhere I aspired to be like you. If not that, at least, I wanted to be appreciated by you. But only now do I realize that being the ideal one was, in fact, your cross to bear. For it meant that you are not allowed to falter, not allowed to be mediocre, not allowed to cry. Yet you have borne the responsibility so well and come out of it all, swinging.
You have been so many things for me - a brother, a friend, a mentor, a long lost father - all rolled into one. And, I have never found enough and appropriate words to thank you. That would been an open display of emotions - a breach of the private set of unwritten rules we follow while we interact with each other. We understand each other so well that, often, our conversation sounds cryptic even to our own mother. So many things are unsaid, but understood, untold but heard, I wish we could decipher all that for the benefit of others.
There are so many memories, can I ever chronicle all of them? From building a mud grave in the front yard or our old house in Wai for the little black kitten who died in your palm, to walking together on the dazzling streets of New York. From running behind each other, bruised and filthy on the sand hills in Baghdad, to putting my head on your shoulders and crying when you gave me away in marriage, there are many bitter-sweet moments we have lived together. The life has not stopped yet and as we co-exist in new dimensions of adulthood and families and there are many more sparkling moments to come.
As you add new year to your life, let me tell you this. Grow up, but don't loose your self. Reach out to the stars, but don't ever forget me. Be the ideal man for the world, but occasionally, taste what its like to be wild, for your wild sister will be there forever!