Recently, I was talking to my younger brother about my work at The Michigan Daily, mentioning the topics I wrote about, but not explaining in full detail since I figured that he, as my younger brother, reads my work. Shockingly, he admitted that he doesn’t, in fact, read my work.
“Yeah, I’m sure they’re great, but articles really aren’t my thing. Proud of you, though,” he admitted.
To be honest, I don’t really care whether or not he reads my work, as long as he has my back and supports me. I did mention to him, though, that I wrote an article about him and our older brother in my piece titled “My brothers can cook” and even used an image of the three of us. Curious, my brother looked at the article and read through it.
Immediately, he stated his criticisms: “WHY would you use that picture of us? The both of you look so good, and I look so dumb.” He continued to read on though, and afterward, said “nice.”
“Did you like it?”
“Yeah, it was good. See, I’d read your stuff if you wrote about me.”
“What would I write about you?”
“How cool and fun and amazing I am.”
Thinking about it, though, my younger brother really is cool, fun and amazing, and that’s something I’m very fortunate to say. He’s one of my best friends.
We’re a little under two years apart in age and only one grade level apart, so we’ve always been very close to each other. In fact, we’ve been mistaken for twins, even today. When we were children, my younger brother was attached to my hip. I’ve always been the loud, outgoing sibling while he remained the quiet, shy sibling. I’ve always been able to make friends quickly and am very comfortable around other people, so our mother would always tell me to “take your brother with you.” So, we grew up having the same friends, going to the same birthday parties and were in the same after-school clubs. It wasn’t until middle school where we started having our own friends and social circles. It felt like, and honestly still feels like, I had to protect my brother in a way, and look after him in the way a mother figure would. Not that I was motherly toward him — trust me, we pushed each other around and were extremely competitive with each other with board games, card games, racing outside, video games, you name it — but at the end of the day we’d always tell each other goodnight and brush aside whether we won or not. We noticed that our friends and their siblings constantly argued with each other. Other parents would tell our parents how they admired how close we were to each other. We didn’t realize that hanging out with your sibling every single day and enjoying it wasn’t the norm. We didn’t realize how lucky we were to have each other around so often.
However, in middle school, our relationship got rocky. All of a sudden, we started to get extremely irritated with each other. Sometimes I think it was because we were both going through those awkward puberty stages at the same time. Everything we did would annoy the other sibling — the way our voices sounded, the way we organized our rooms, even the way we ate drove us insane since I would always catch myself angrily telling my brother to chew quieter, to which he would just chomp on his food louder, to the point where we couldn’t even eat dinner together at the same time and place. We would refuse to hang out with each other in social situations, and all-around stopped talking to each other. The only emotion we’d express with each other was anger. Even our parents were shocked at this sudden shift in our relationship. They would tell us things like, “You both never used to do this, what’s going on?” and, “Everybody would come tell us how great you both would get along, what happened to that?”
In hindsight, we both genuinely never knew what triggered this sentiment towards each other, and we play it off as “just a phase” everyone goes through. I compare it to when you and a friend slowly lose contact with each other and it takes a while to come back together. Whatever the reason may be though, as my brother and I got to high school, we both grew out of this strange phase of being disgusted with each other, and slowly started moving back into the phase of being friends again. We would run errands or just get Chipotle and boba together. As we both got older and more mature, we were able to connect with each other in ways we never were able to as kids and do things we weren’t able to. As children, we only ever talked about what kind of ice cream we wanted to eat and what time we wanted to play outside. The only thing we could do with each other was watch TV and go to the park. Now, we’re able to drive around town whenever we wish to, grab ice cream or coffee, go shopping, grab dinner, go to the movies and so many more things. We’re able to talk to each other about what we want to do when we’re older, relationships we’ve created with others and more serious subjects we weren’t able to dive into as children. I continuously ramble to him about how much I love Carnatic music and want to pursue it in the future, and I could listen to him talk about his passion for video game development and design, telling me all about Unity, for hours on end. I tell him about all of my crushes, and he constantly reassures me, saying things like “No, you’re not being weird, he’s being the dumb one,” while opening up about how he feels in his relationship with his current partner and listening to the advice I have to give him. Furthermore, we talk about how we plan on passing down the lessons our parents taught us and the culture, traditions and passions our parents instilled in us at a young age to our future children.
We currently have a million inside jokes with each other. We call each other our “twin,” in reference to the numerous friends of ours asking, “Are you two twins?” and admitting, “When I first met you guys, I thought y’all were twins.” We talk to each other in silly voices, mixing up words in English and Telugu to create sentences in what feels like our own language. We play video games and board games with each other, channeling that competitiveness we had with each other ever since we were kids. We constantly roast our older brother together as, what we call, the “twin-tag-team.” Of course, with that, we constantly roast each other, all in good fun of course. We have what we call “carpool karaoke sessions” where we belt out our favorite songs together while driving around town. My younger brother admits, “Yeah, I got my personality from you,” confirming the fact that younger siblings do indeed get their personality from us older siblings. However, to no one’s surprise, he follows up with, “Only the good parts, though. I’m like the better version of you.”
My brother and I promised each other that we would remain as close as we are today. Even though we still bicker here and there about what board game we want to play, and probably will continue to in the future, we vowed to each other that yin and yang would never be separate. We talk about how we would be there for each other’s biggest milestones even after we’ve moved on to start families of our own. The thought of us starting our own families is scary, though, not only because we’d have to be responsible adults, but because of the realization: “Oh my god, I’m going to be ‘the dad’s side of the family’ to your kids, bro,” referring to our running joke that we prefer our mother’s side of the family. I’m confident that we will be able to turn the dad’s side into the superior side, and we’re excited to see what the future holds for us. Hopefully, that includes him actually reading my pieces.
MiC Columnist Smarani Komanduri can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org