Laila is someone that I love dearly because she is the only sister I have. When she was born, it was as if the sun shone rays of light onto our house and made it much more radiant and brighter.
Laila relied so much on all of us, her brothers to get things done. If he needed her school shoes found, she went to Waheed and gave crocodile tears to attract compassion from the eldest. When Laila needed her homework done, she tugged on Bashir’s arms with a cry to force him to help her with it. When at the dining for breakfast she was quick to call Mother’s attention to herself by reporting that no one wanted to help her get the bread. We all cherished and pampered Laila up to the extent of turning her to an invalid. We indulged her whims so much that from an early age it became practically impossible for her to take care of herself when she became ten.
My mother was the most culprit. Whenever my brothers and I corrected Laila on a particular behaviour that was against an etiquette, she was all ready to defend her to the last.
There was an incidence of me correcting Laila on the use of left hand to eat at the dining table.
“Leave me alone!” I will use my left to eat.”
My displeasure was written on my face that Waheed who wasn’t privy to the words of Laila because he was engrossed in his phone as he played a game on it. My grumble must have hit his ears.
“What are you mumbling about, Usman?” Waheed asked.
Pointing at Laila and raising my voice so that it would carry over to the kitchen where mother was still getting the remaining food ready.
“ I corrected Laila on the proper use of her right hand while eating, but she refused to listen.”
Waheed took a glance across at Laila who is seated opposite.
“Just ignore her, Usman. The only thing that would happen is that you will get into trouble with Mama. You of all people should know that correcting Laila only brings trouble. Mama is blind to Laila’s antics.”
Seeing Laila’s tongue out, and making faces at both Waheed and I ignited my fury the more.
But my stubbornness wouldn’t allow me to be. I completely ignored my brother. I stood up, moved to where Laila was seated and held her left hand which prevented her from continuing with her meal. Then removed the cutlery from her tiny fingers with fingernails chewed into the edge of her fingers. The howl that came out of Laila’s mouth was unexpected as it hit my ear drum with an intensity that rendered my left ear deaf for some minutes after the ordeal.
Mama’s figure conjured up in front of me…