I grew up, finished my studies and joined a job while Tapas still learnt the Alphabet and the nursery rhymes.
“You might find this a little disturbing, but I feel I must tell you this.” She said in a sombre voice.
“What`s it, Ma?”
“So far we three have been good and caring to Tapas. Now a fourth person is going to come and she might not be as considerate as us. It`s your duty to take care of your brother. Don`t let him feel that he is a burden to you.” She said and began to sob.
I didn’t know what to do. Neither could I imagine what was going on in her mind on that particular day. Tapas was fifteen years old then, but he still played with my old stuffed toys and rhyme books.
“Don`t worry, Ma, I`ll take care of him.” I said.
Next week we had to shift him to hospital.
The doctors said he had fever, a chest infection perhaps and there was no reason to worry. But I had my doubts for his eyes that were always cheerful, appeared blank and glazed. Despite all those strong antibiotics, he didn’t improve and we were called on one evening to take a decision.
“I am afraid, your brother hasn’t responded to anything we have done so far. His blood pressure is falling, urine output is decreasing. We are giving him oxygen by mask, but soon he will need assisted ventilation. He won`t be able to sustain himself.” The attending doctor said.
“What do you want me do, Doctor?” I said.
“Unless you tell us specifically that you don`t want your brother to be put into the breathing machine, we will put him on ventilator if required and keep all our resuscitative measures on.”
“Is there any chance of recovery?” I asked.
“See, it`s difficult to predict death.” He said.
I looked at my brother. His tiny body was hidden under the green bed sheet; only his head was visible, his face under a transparent cone, pumping oxygen to his stiffened lungs. I went close to his bed and put my hand over his bald head. He opened his eyes. I heard him say, sign up brother, it`s time to go.
I got the final call in the morning. The doctor said he passed away at four am. I could take my time and reach hospital after eight.
Debashis Deb never wrote anything in English except prescriptions till 2012. A laparoscopic surgeon by profession, trained at AIIMS, New Delhi, he suddenly discovered his passion for writing when he turned fifty. An avid and curious reader, he is now in hurry to catch up with the lost time. His short stories have been published in e-magazines like Muse India, Literary Yard and others. He wrote a novel during NANOWRIMO 2014 and was declared a winner. He hopes to write at least five novels before he takes the last train to glory.