My brother, Rueben

I was 12 when my brother was born. When my mom first checked with the doctor, she was told that she was having a girl. With two girls, one 12 and the other 8, at home, my parents did not exactly say they were disappointed but we knew that a boy would have been more welcomed. A complete trio. Furthermore, my mother was already 36 at that time, so to try for a fourth child, would probably have been out of the question for her. 

So imagine our surprise, when we got a brother instead. My mom always says that she feels my brother was a gift from God as he was totally unexpected but has fulfilled her every expectations. I remember the pride on my father's face when he came home from the hospital, proudly announcing “It's a boy!”.  

The first moment I laid eyes on my brother, I was shocked at how tiny he was. A quiet baby, that didn't cry much, who looked at you in wonder and seemed to enjoy the prospect of sleeping. His eyes were huge, taking in the scenes around him, twisting his head to get a clearer picture of his surroundings. He was so little and cute, it was love at first sight for me. 

My brother was an easy, pleasant baby. No loud screaming cries from him. It was just short whimpers when he wanted milk or a change of diapers. He was so quiet that our neighbors used to ask if we really had a baby in the house, as they could not hear any wailing as would have been expected from a newborn baby. I wonder if they realize that he makes up for that lack of noise in the early days of his life, by blasting all the rock songs nowadays. Sorry neighbors, you did ask why he was so quiet when he was a baby, well he's making up for it now.

funny gifs thunder storm animated thunderstormHe was the kind of baby who slept through thunderstorms. I particularly remember one violent storm. There was my mom rushing to my brother, thinking the loud blast of thunder would scare her poor baby, but that baby did not stir at all. He continued sleeping peacefully through it all, not a worry in the world.

Most babies need to be rocked to sleep. Not my brother. He didn't even need a cradle. Just put him on the bed and he will go right off to sleep. I used to love rocking him in my arms, singing lullabies to him, while he slept. Now though, I blame my terrible singing (more of caterwauling actually) to him falling asleep so quickly. "What is that awful noise. Make it stop! Make it stop!", my poor baby brother must have thought before being knocked unconscious.

blizzard stormEven now, he can sleep through blizzards. He will say “Let me have a short nap” and we know we can say goodbye to our plans as he won't wake up till hours later. Waking him up is the most difficult thing in the world. We can push and prod and he won't even stir. “Throw a bucket of water on me” he used to say when we complained about the difficulties of waking him up (Yeah sure Rueben, we'll keep that in mind for future use). 

When he was young, he used to always get up with a smile on his face. Looking forward to the day. He wasn't into toys, preferring to find fun in things people usually throw away. 

I remember him confiscating this box my mom was planning to throw away and letting his imagination run wild with it. Turning it into a fortress or castle (who knew what his mind was thinking then). One of the earliest forms of recycling. 

He loved cars and motorbikes (he still does actually) waiting for the day when he was old enough to ride one. He used to collect all the car magazines, excitedly describing parts of the car, like the engine, talking about torque and combustion, not realizing his sister, whom he was busy explaining it to, had totally spaced out (cars just ain't my thing. I love watching speed-related, car-chase movies, but that is as far as it would go. Try to pull me into a conversation about the actual workings of a car and you lose me there). 

He was interested in law enforcement from a very young age so he used to make his own guns out of a wood and pegs, carving it to look like a gun, then going from room to room, looking for his imaginary suspects (probably due to his sisters being hooked on 21 Jump Street at that time). Now he has grown up to have the build, physique and height of a Police Officer and when he gets his stern face Photobucket Smiley Stern Angry Bully Punch animated gifon, he strikes fear into the hearts of those, who had dared to mess with his family and friends. 

When I left for University, he was about 8. He was shorter than me when I left but when I returned, he had somehow managed to become taller than me. It seemed like every time I returned home during the holidays, he was getting taller and more mature. The little boy I knew was not there anymore and he was turning into this young man. Till now I regret those days I was away from home as I had missed my brother growing up. It seemed like within a few short years, he was no longer the baby brother. 

I remember a neighbor telling me a story I've never forgotten. My brother was 9 and he was so fidgety. She asked him “Why are you so excited, Rueben?”. He said “Of course I'm excited, my sister is coming back from Sarawak today for her holidays”. That was something that touched me and I've not forgotten it. I'm sure any sister will love to have that; the knowledge that her baby brother loved her and missed her enough to look forward to her coming back home on her semester break. 

A family friend once told us that my brother will only be close to us when he's young, once he enters his teens, he won't want to spend time with us anymore. That may be true for that family friend's sons, who rarely spend time with them but my brother is different. Yes. He has friends. Lots of them and he is rarely at home because he hangs out with them. But when we ask him to spend time with us, he never turns us down. He is even willing to go on long holidays with us, where he sits patiently waiting while we do our shopping, then carrying our shopping bags for us when we are done. When we check-in into a hotel during our holidays, he's our 

bellboy, carrying all our heavy bags up to our rooms for us, while saying "Do you need to pack and bring the entire house? Why do you all need so many bags. Look at me, one knapsack and I'm done".

On our holidays, we usually end up relaxing in our hotel room. Not going out. Chit-chatting. Most of the time, my brother will entertain us with his jokes and crazy stories. 

He is not perfect though. Getting into scrapes that scares us to bits. Worrying us. The thing I like about him is that, no matter what mess he has done or in what big trouble he is in, he cannot keep it from my mom. He ends up confessing everything to her. Knowing he is going to get the scolding of his life but unable to hide it from her.

Now that he's in college, furthering his studies, we miss him terribly. The house is quiet without his stories and crazy sense of humor. Although, he still makes it a point to call home Photobucketevery day to talk to my parents, it is still not the same. I know my father misses him terribly as my brother is the one he can talk to freely.

When my mom was not well, my brother stayed by her side. When my father needs a confidant to listen to all his political adventures and tales of woes, my brother is there for him, to listen patiently and without censure. When my grandmother was sick, he was there for her, helping my mom clean her up and take care of her. He never complains when my mother asks him to take my grandmother to the doctors or to do things for her.

When my mother was undergoing radiotherapy, he rushed home after school to buy and send lunch over to my grandmother. He does it all without complaint because he says he remembers how my grandmother took care of him when he was young. 

How she used to make a bottle of thick Milo for him as soon as my father dropped him off at her place. He will drink it then follow her to feed her chickens and ducks. That sense of gratitude he has for how she took care of him makes him ready to do anything for her now. Many children have forgotten what their mothers have done for them, neglecting their mothers at their old age, visiting them once or twice a year and thinking their job done. We're proud that our brother still has that sense of gratitude, remembering what his grandmother did for him and choosing to be there for her when she needs him.

I'm proud of how my brother has turned out. From the funny kid who used to sing "I'm sitting here in the boring room" at church during mass to the guy, who has the ability to diffuse any tense situation with his humor. I know he is someone whom I can count on when times are tough. He jokingly says to me “You're not married. When you are old, only my children and I will have to take care of you”. A friend of mine said, in response to this “At least he's planning and willing to take care of you”. 

God has indeed blessed us with a son and brother, we love and that we're proud of. Our only prayer for him is that he studies and works hard, does well and achieves success and everything else his heart desires.



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