“Excuse me, I am Vinoj Vijayan’s brother !”
Folks, this is the story of a guy who had to live with the identity of being the younger brother of ‘Vinoj Vijayan’ for so many years and at times, even now !!
Don’t know what was the problem, but my name, during my school days, was a tad longer and weirder than many of you. Vimal isn’t that bad a name, is it ? Or, is it that my name’s too difficult to pronounce? Because, I was known only as ‘Vinoj Vijayan’s brother” for the 15 years I spent in school and I doubt if the teachers actually knew that I had a shorter name! Hmm… Can’t blame them totally! My brother was this Mr.Perfect in school; topper right from nursery to his 12th (he was even UAE topper in his 12th), quiet, behaves extremely well and so, was easily the apple of everyone’s eye. And me, just the opposite; average in studies, extremely talkative, picks fight with everyone in the class, and was always the sand in everybody’s eye! Each time I do something silly in school, the teachers call ‘Vinoj Vijayan’ to the classroom to decide what should be done, and I would be standing in front of the whole class, as if in a court room waiting for the ‘judgement’! Being a man of principles, my brother had this special quality of not keeping anything to his heart and would vomit whatever happened in school, to my mother. Well, he still does it! All hell breaks loose when my mother starts questioning me. I try justifying my actions, create loud scenes, get beaten up, and cry while my brother would’ve already sat with his books to study, as if nothing happened!!! To top it all, my mother would send me to him for maths lessons on those days!!
On various occasions, I was asked why am I not like my brother for which I always had the same reply for everyone – Oru thenggiley, randu thengaa, orikkalum orey poley aavilla (In a coconut tree, two coconuts, never ever alike). My brother has this some kind of aura around him, that makes most of my relatives and family friends, old and young, to still look upto him for his suggestions and opinion. Some of my cousins, who came before and after me, were also subjected to comparisons with the phenomenon that my brother is. The quality benchmark that my brother set is still too high for any of our standards Nobody really cares what I speak and that’s because I don’t think I ever say anything sane to my relatives. Even if I do, by mistake, they just stare at my face for a few minutes and then, change the topic. For them, I am and will always be “ohh, you are never like your brother” !!!
All this would’ve have definitely made a great story for a 80’s potboiler, you know, sibling rivalry born out of jealousy and frustration. But, that’s the funniest part, I have always enjoyed the situations being this way. Since, I don’t have this ‘good boy’ image, the expectations are always low and every year, I ensure to bring down the expectation meter to a new level, so that people can always say the next time “oh, we have seen worse from him” . I had the liberty to be in my own sweet world whenever I wanted to and never had to get myself involved in any of the major family discussions. My brother took the role of the responsible chap quite early in his life, while I just had to go with the rules that he had already set.
At school, being ‘Vinoj Vijayan’s brother’ was actually an advantage; saved me a lot of times from getting into escalations. There was this one instance, when my friends and I jumped out of the classroom window and to our bad luck, we landed right in front of the headmaster! We were asked to meet the headmaster immediately; a powerful pinch and a few heart piercing punch dialogues, was his mode of punishment. My friends were called in first and I was asked to wait. After a few minutes, they came out; two of them rubbing their arms and one, in tears. I went in, warming up my arms and wished I had ear buds to escape from all his infamous punch dialogues. But to my surprise, nothing of that sort happened. As soon as I entered his room, he asked me to sit down; yeah, I am not kidding, nobody gets that privilege. I was in my 10th back then, and hence, my session with him was more about the importance of board exam and concentration on studies. I cared little about it, for I used to get the same advice from my parents those days and still waited for him to turn violent. That’s when he brought up my brother’s name, who had left school by then to join college. See, I didn’t have to even tell anybody who I am. Mr.Headmaster said I should be learn to be like my brother, make everybody say good things about me and that I should score more than my brother in the board exams and blah blah. The Headmaster being a malayali, my great coconut philosophy would have probably worked on him, but I didn’t want to take the risk. After 15 mins. of free lecture, he let me out wishing me even ‘a best of luck’. As I said earlier, nobody gets this privilege guys, except ‘Vinoj Vijayan’s brother’ !!! I still can’t forget the smirk he had on his face when I went to collect my conduct certificate, later that year
Situations are more or less the same even now and I am not exaggerating. The last time I visited my school was in 2006, and the moment I met the old tutors, their first question was “How is your brother, where is he?” instead of “How are you?” !!!! Actually, it was a recent incident that inspired me to write this. A couple of days back, I happened to see one of my school teacher in my brother’s FB profile. I got excited seeing him and sent a friendship request immediately. Pat came the reply, “Do I know you?”!! Hmmpphh !!! This person taught me mathematics at school for two years and I also went for private tuitions to his residence. But, I realized where the problem was; it’s the name. I simply wrote back, “Hi, I am Vinoj Vijayan’s brother” ; yeah, just that one line would do for him to accept me now ! duh !!
‘What’s in a name’, so said Shakespeare ! As if he ever had to go through any of this !