FOR MY UNKNOWN BROTHER
A wonderful short story
© Jayshree Winters 2009
Free to read online
May 15th, 1995 Gujarat, India. The day was very hot. Perhaps the heat even more oppressive because I had been away from the country for 5 plus years. Now I was sitting in the State Transport Bus (S.T. as it is popularly called) traveling from Godhra to Baroda (town in Gujarat) I was on my way back from visiting my grandmother.
Sitting in the bus next to me was a young man. Being a psychiatrist one cannot help observing people. Clean shaven, neatly dressed with immaculately ironed clothes he seemed to want to look his best.
We struck up a conversation. Somewhere in it, emerged that he was the oldest son of a poor farmer. His 5 younger sisters and father lived in the village. His mother had died long ago during the last childbirth. Father assisted by neighbors had raised the children. The young man had finished his S. S.C (High School) with high grades and now he was going to the city of Baroda for a job interview and was excited about it. He had these visions of helping his father and getting his sisters married one after another.
The Bus passed through the maze of streets in Baroda on its way to the Bus Depot. Finally, it came to a screeching halt at its final destination. To my foreign eyes, the city seemed to have changed a lot. Overflowing with myriads of people, the streets and roads seemingly even more complex than before.
Passengers started getting down from the bus, the young man next to me and I included. We said good-bye to each other. Then I took out the address in Baroda where I was to reach. I felt somewhat flustered at the strange sounding address. Since the young man was still standing close by I walked up to him and asked, “Bhai (Brother) Do you know where this place is?” He said he did and that we could wait and catch the next local bus to the place. I told him I preferred to go in a rickshaw. He elected to go with me so that he could show me that place and so we sat in the rickshaw.
My destination was before his. The Rickshaw stopped and I got down. I started to give the rickshaw man some money which was promptly thrust back into my hands by the young man. Amidst my protests, he looked at me and said you called me a brother, so how could a brother let his sister pay any money? Before I could speak another word he and the rickshaw left.
I stood staring at the dust generated behind the departing rickshaw. I wondered what the young man would have to forego to pay for that long rickshaw trip. It could even be a few of his meals.
Suddenly I realized that in all this I had not even cared to ask the young man his name. I had been away from home too long!!!
Dr. Jayshree Winters is a practicing psychiatrist in New Jersey. She is a caring and compassionate physician, who is held in high esteem by her patients and the medical community. In recognition of her outstanding achievements in her field, the American Psychiatric Association honored her by naming her a Distinguished Fellow of the Association. Dr. Winters is a tireless advocate of giving back to the society. She volunteers her time to several organizations and serves on the boards of Cancer Care and Health Power for Minorities. She is also an active member of the Rotary International. Dr. Winters is a prolific writer and an eloquent speaker, with frequent radio and TV presentations. She has published numerous articles, and is often sought by the media on coverage related to social, cultural, life adjustment issues, immigrant experiences and mental health issues. Dr. Winters is a Distinguished Fellow, American Psychiatric Association, Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She is also an accomplished psychoanalyst and holds certification in Disaster Mental Health from the American Red Cross. A graduate of MS University of Baroda, India, she completed her psychiatric training at the New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York. Dr. Winters is also an executive producer of the TV show THEDESIDOCTORS aimed at bringing some of the current medical information to the viewers.