Between the two of them there are more dissimilarities than similarities though both were born to real sisters who are married to real brothers.
The elder, Aziz, 5, is reed-thin with a shrill voice; the younger, Arjan, 3, is plump and has a gruff voice. If they are poles apart in their physical appearance, temperament, traits, habits, likes, dislikes and dietary habits, they have contrasting preferences in toys and TV programmes too. Yet, both love to play games on their mothers’ cell-phones.
If Aziz is possessive about his wide range of cars and is obsessed with ‘Doraemon’; Arjan loves his ‘animal kingdom’, spending hours arranging his wild animals and remaining in incessant conversation with them, spinning imaginary stories about his “friends” and often acts as ‘Chhota Bheem’. Even their T-shirts, bed-sheets and pillow covers carry an imprint of their respective obsessions.
One admirable trait that one sees in them is the mutual care they take of each other. It is, of course, another matter when they strike an estranged relationship over a frivolous issue or when either feels outwitted or is denied the right to ‘own’ a treasure trove that belongs to the other.
When Arjan was admitted to the school where Aziz studies, the latter put his arm around his brother and in a caring voice assured him of “protection and care”. We were amused at the gesture.
As one grows old and watches the two grandsons grow up fighting and frolicking, the two often take your breath away with their ‘mature’, off-the-cuff remarks, innocence, intelligence and instant gestures: call it their wisdom or theatrics.
Most evenings, as the sun prepares to set, shadows lengthen and rain-washed plantation sways in the wind, the 85-year-old grand old lady of the house invariably calls up her grand-daughters-in-law asking them to bring the two ‘apples of her eyes’ to play around her in the lawn. The time she spends with them watching them run around, perhaps, invigorates her, adding life to her years.
On one such evening, the younger one laid out some leaves in the lawn, plucked small blades of grass with his nimble fingers and camouflaged two tiny cars that belonged to Aziz. It was not a prank really; perhaps, it was his way of surprising his brother. As is the wont of the children their age, the elder flew off the handle and with a smart kick demolished the ‘bunker’ where his two cars were hidden.
While their mothers stepped in to prevent any fight, a push or a shove between the two, Arjan did the unthinkable. With a long pulled face and anguish writ large on it, he repeatedly said, “Sorry, Aziz bhaji”. And then, spontaneously, he pulled at his ‘kurta’ and advanced towards Aziz asking him to clean up his cars which were slightly smeared with wet soil.
What a gesture it was! The grand old lady first laughed at Arjan’s act and then wiped her moist eyes seeing the intelligence and innocence of his gesture. Isn’t blood thicker than water?