There is a saying in Tamil that the old father evokes every time he hears me rave about my younger brother. In short it means: one who is blessed with a brother is blessed with the might of an army.
But my brother is more like wings.
When he comes home, we were ready to take flight and soar. Home is a place we return to from our little flights of adventure and fancy. He has always been the one ready to take you out on a ride, whether on his bicycle as a boy, or on his scooter and bike as a young adult, or in his car as an adult.
Legendary Road Trips
When I moved to the United States, I slowly lost touch with driving in India. I increasingly find myself restricted in movement on my trips there. My brother truly becomes my wings. When he is there, I can take on anything, anywhere.
Road trips with the brother have acquired a legendary status over the years, because he, like the father, has acquired the knack of peppering the trip with snacks – the right delicacies at the right time.
One evening, he said we’d go out, and I felt the stirring of the spirits once again. The roaring of adventure rang in the ears. A few miles from our urban home, he spun his wheels in what he calls off-roading. I had only vaguely heard the term. His eyes rove for unbeaten paths, muddy side roads and often roads that no one prefers.
The first time he did this, I was not prepared, since he somewhat abruptly swung off the road and bumped off unceremoniously into a muddy path by the roadside. I clutched whatever I could, and rattled off a prayer-cum-expletive that had the brother and nephew laughing. What was this? Before I knew it, he had the car in a ditch, and it did not look possible to get it out of there. As much confidence as I had in the spirit of adventure with the fellow, this time, it seemed, we were done for.
How Did We Get Here?
The nephew, all of a decade old, said ‘Athai! ‘(Father’s sister) using a tone meant to soothe and calm irrational patients. “Don’t worry – this car can do….” He went on to rattle some statistics on torques, elevation gains and things that sent my head reeling. I looked at the little fellow, and felt a gurgle of laughter slip through the panic. I heeded it and laughed. This apple had fallen right next to the tree.
This was exactly what his father did as a little fellow. I remember the old father trooping home from bookstores in far flung corners of whichever city he had visited, and we all made a beeline to see what he picked up for us. The little brother’s eyes always lit up with the old Auto magazines he had picked up from used book stores for him. He would spend rainy afternoons reading about the cars, their makes, their engine powers, their capacity.
Early Evening Magic
The bucolic scenes that reveal themselves in these off-roading experiences are amazing. One time, we positioned our phones to click a number of goat kids bleating atop a knoll, when a lady came out of her hut. The smile she gave us afterwards was priceless.
Clucking hens, and goat kids seemed almost magical in the early evening.
Evening scenes of women making their way home with firewood on their heads, or goats and cows ambling back home against the rural landscape set the pace differently from the rushing automobiles, and folks honking homewards in urban scapes just a few miles away.
What Lies Ahead
Off-roading in poramboke lands means you get to see arid stones and rocks, or patches thriving in vegetation, and not really knowing what you would see.
My brother once stopped the car over a steep knoll to watch the sunset, and there in the distance was a peacock.
It was pure coincidence that we caught this peacock taking flight into the sunset and that I managed to capture the picture. Mostly, by the time I fumble for the phone, and click, the birds have not only gone, but in the art of fumbling, I miss both the photograph and the wonderful sight of the birds taking flight. This time, I caught both. Life shows you moments of joy and luck, every so often to remind us of the magic of serendipity.
When we troop back into the home, the old parents ask us where we have been. We have no destination to name. Sometimes, it is just the journey.