Bhai had gone to play football match that day; he was the junior most player in the team and yet, amongst the best. He had always told me that the senior guys were tough.
He had already scored three goals against the opponent team and was undoubtedly going to be the man of the tournament.
I was overjoyed.
As he witnessed hooting, cheering, and waving for him over and over, he turned around to smile at me for a microsecond. And just then someone kicked the ball, into his direction, for him to pass it to the next player.
Before he could move or kick or catch it, it hit his head real hard. Indeed, those seniors were tough; bhai fell on the field like a lifeless body.
Dad ran to the field hastily, just the way he ran years back when bhai had fallen down from his bicycle and was badly hurt. Mom quietly caressed his hair in the ambulance on our way to the hospital, just the way she would make him sleep every night.
I didn’t know whether God existed or not but I silently prayed to him in a corner, to somehow make him well again, sooner, soonest possible.
My prayers probably didn’t reach him; bhai succumbed to his head injuries during the surgery and was declared dead. All the team members were present there, with teary eyes.
The one whose kick had resulted into this was traumatised. He apologised over a hundred times to my parents and cried.
Dad’s hand shivered while signing the organ donation documents, but he anyway had to, because bhai always wanted that.
Today the ‘man of the tournament’ trophy came home, but the man didn’t.
Our home has become a quiet place since then.
I sleep alone on that double bed in our room, still leaving his place vacant on the left. Multiplayer games have turned single player now. I miss fighting for that extra share of candies every time and have to sit all alone in the back seat of the car.
I read those bedtime stories all by myself, our four-seater dining table has only three seats occupied now, those giggles and laughter seem to have vanished, and so has my only companion, my partner in crime, my best friend, my bhai.
But I think things are changing now.
Two streets across, I knew a girl of my age who couldn’t see; recently she got an eye donor.
I met her at the movie theatre yesterday. She told me that it was her first movie, and how amazed she was to see that the theatre could be this huge, with such big screen and everything around in this world was so colourful and full of life.
That wide smile on her face well communicated that she was the happiest ever to get her eyesight. Her sparkling eyes, which someone donated to her, look at me, the same way as his, with the same love and warmth.
I wonder if they really are his eyes. Maybe he is still alive somewhere, in her.
The old lady who had spent a major part of her life in the hospital due to kidney dysfunction was playing with her granddaughters in the park last week.
She told me that it was not merely an organ that someone had donated to her, but a whole new life. The same lady who had died a little inside every day in that hospital ward now desired to live longer.
My parents leave me at her place whenever they go out and she takes care of me exactly the way bhai used to. I wonder if that person was bhai himself.
His care for me is still alive; he is still alive somewhere, in her.
Bhai’s classmate, who was surviving on a pacemaker since long in that four-walled ICU, got a donor recently. Now he shouts out aloud in front of our house for me to come out and play football with him.
We also watch cartoon movies together, play video games, fight over sharing the candies and for some reason, he always sits on my left side, his side of the bed that is.
I wonder if he has bhai’s heart because he does seem to have it in him. He’s the new partner, the new friend. Maybe, I have started to find my lost brother, in him.
Bhai hasn’t left, really, he is just here, somewhere in him and in all these people put together.
It hurts less when I see people getting hopeful about life because of people like bhai, people praise him for having done something so great at such a tender age, but I wish I could tell them that this is something we all can do, this is no greatness but as bhai used to say, it’s just ‘an act of humanity’.
It’s not merely an organ donation, rather the donation of life, hope, and happiness to someone.
Will it not be satisfying to not only be remembered for the life we live, but also for the life we give?
~ Pallavi Mishra | Edited by Aashna Sharma