It was the night before he left, and I could not sleep. It was 11:56 PM, and I was rolling around in my bed, shuffling the pillow around so my head could get into a comfortable position. I had been trying as hard as I could for about an hour, but my mind was racing. I kept thinking about how Ishan was not only my brother and my best friend, but also the source of liveliness in our house. He made me laugh when I felt sad, talked to me when I was lonely, and played with me even if he had a mountain of work. I couldn’t imagine what life would be without him. Who would take his place? Whom would I play with, talk to, and laugh with?
I groggily flipped over: it was AM, not PM. It was an hour until Ishan had to leave, and I would have rather not woken up at all.
“Ishan has to leave in an hour! Shriyan! Get-up-brush-your-teeth-and-eat-your-breakfast!”
My mom was yelling at me to wake up. I stayed in bed for as long as I could to maximize my time with him. I remembered a time when I was 7 years old. I loved playing my Xbox (still do). But one night, I did not yet have the chance to play that day. I begged Mom and Dad, but they declined my request (apparently, there is a rule that one should not play video games before bed). I started crying and creating havoc.
“It’s okay, Shriyan. Calm down. It is not the end of the world.”
Ishan was trying to soothe me. I kept crying, but he kept trying. He finally succeeded in bringing my wails down to a whimper.
It was 11:48 AM now, and we had to leave in 12 minutes. I tried to push away the thought of Ishan leaving over breakfast but the tension was too high. We were sitting across from each other like a team of angry chess players that were silent because they had both lost to their opponents.
“I hope that you like college,” I said too curtly. Quickly, I added: “I’ll really miss you.”
He nodded, but was silent. I still could not think about what would happen when he was gone.
I unwillingly helped him bring his bags into the car. I desperately wanted more time with Ishan. We started driving, and I talked to him about college, football, and how he was going to come back in a month, which translated to an eternity for me.
I couldn’t help but think about the time he got into Tufts, which was about nine months ago. My whole family was downstairs baking chocolate cookies. When I smelled the chocolate, I raced downstairs at the speed of ninety miles an hour to investigate. When I made it to the last step on the stairs, I heard my Mom and Dad congratulating Ishan. .
“Ishan actually got into Tufts!”
My heart and mind started filling with balloons. Ishan’s hard work had finally paid off! And I was right there to congratulate him. I then started to think clearly about impending changes. I also knew that there was still a lot of time to spend with him.
“When will Ishan have to leave?” I’d ask Dad.
“In about a year,” he’d respond. It was a long time away.”
I then thought about the time when Ishan and I were quarrelling about whether Super Bowl 52 was fair or not. I thought that the referees were making bad calls, while Ishan thought that the play was fair. It got to the point where I started shouting, and then, we were both shouting. We were like a pair of poodles arguing over a single bone.
We were almost at Tufts now. I kept thinking about how I wouldn’t see Ishan in such a long time, and how I cannot find anyone to replace him. When I looked at the GPS, the only thing I saw on the screen was 2 mins. My breathing pace increased rapidly, and my eyes were fully open. My Mom looked back at me and somehow read my mind.
“We are going to eat pizza first before dropping him off,” she said.
I exhaled. We got out of the car, and went to explore Ishan’s new dorm. It was so empty: two empty beds, two empty cabinets, two empty dressers, and two empty desks. I didn’t know how we would turn this into Ishan’s home. We started by spreading his bedsheet and blanket on his bed before turning our attention to the desk. Twenty-five minutes later, it looked a bit better than before, but still looked pretty empty.
We went to eat at a pizza place called Nick’s House of Pizza. The pizza was filled with happiness and joy, unlike my mood. I quickly finished the pizza, and tried to forget about the elephant in the room. Sadly, everyone else had finished too, and it was time to say goodbye. Mom was crying. I wanted to as well, but knew better.
“It’s OK,” I said, putting my arm around her. “He will be back before you know it.”
I told Ishan to have fun, and that we would miss him. But right before he left, I couldn’t help blurting out:
He responded, “Yes. Sadly, I really have to.”
It was at this moment when it all hit. I heard the car engine fire up, and I couldn’t bear to watch him leave. I still could not imagine how life would be without him, but I guess I would start finding out.
When my Dad came back after taking Ishan back to his dorm, he was walking alone. My stomach sank, and my feet were numb. My breath was shaking like a tree in a hurricane. We drove home in silence, and all I could think about was Ishan. I remembered everything that he did for me and my family. Immediately when I got home, I ripped my phone out of my pocket, almost tearing my pocket in the process, and started texting Ishan.
“I hope you have a wonderful time in college, and I hope that you will meet many friends, and have a lot of fun. I will miss you A LOT!”
Two seconds later, my phone lit up with a message.
“I will miss you so much, and I will try to call you every day to see how your day is going. I will also come to visit anytime. You can always text me if you need me”
I smiled meekly, but I smiled for the first time all day. My parents and I would now FaceTime him every day at college just to annoy him. But I just really just want to see how his day was going. Even though I still had some worries about living without Ishan, at least I sleep peacefully knowing that college is treating my big brother all right.