As time passed by, the differences faded, we knew we were best of friends and the eternal hatred changed into love.

Born on the 28th of March 1992, I was the second Arian in my family the first being my grandma. Since then, I have been the youngest of all the grandchildren and the most stubborn. Even today, I like to believe that I was pampered the most and was also the most loved amongst all.

I have had different names, usually the shortened versions of my given name like “Bonu”, “Boni”, “Boné” (especially given by my father), but no one even had the slightest idea that my real and official name was Bonita. Even these days, if you go ask my neighbor where Bonita lives, they probably won’t be able to answer your question.

 The nicknames became my identity, I loved them all so dearly but there was one that I couldn’t endure -“Bunu”. My brother called me Bunu. I despised the unpleasant sound it made, the horrible “u” in the middle of my name. It made no sense at all. It sounded something like the sound of a dispiriting crowd that is “booing” you. But this wasn’t even a crowd, it was like one person discouraging me every time he called out my name.

Back then, we lived in the USA, my father had been working in the Nepalese Embassy, and they had given us a house and provided us with comfortable couches on which he sat like a king on his thrown. My brother, Nishchal (Nishu was a shortened version) was a short, round guy with huge glasses and as far I can remember he always wore khakishorts. He had a mushroom cut hair style which looked hilarious and irregular on his round face. Six years older than me, and as a male child he always enjoyed making me his slave, making me do all of his work as if he ruled the world. However, I must admit that (putting aside the sibling-rivalry) he was a very talented young fellow. At13, he was already flawless on the keyboard. He had karateclasses and it was amazing how he was learning Latin in his middle school.

What I did not liked at all was the attention he got at home and everywhere else. Even in parties, people couldn’t stop but ask him questions about his schoolwork and his Latin classes. “Oh, Nishu why don’t you play the keyboard for us. I always wanted to hear you play,” they all said. “Nishu, say something in Latin, you would know all the words in the dictionary by now” Aunts always employed their wits to drag him into a conversation.

While all this was going on, I just sat on the side pretending to smile. But it went to the extreme one day and the day was the 28th of March 1998, my 6th birthday. I was the centre of attention. It was MY day after all. Gifts, guests and a cake (which was set all for me) encircled me. But this state of being free, the sense of possessiveness and the interest in admiring the self  didn’t last for a long time. My uncle went up to my brother again and urged him to play something on the keyboard. I reviled that old uncle who kind of ruined my day. I kept wondering why they couldn’t wait for his birthday to come; they could make him play the keyboard the whole time, I wouldn’t mind that. But today, it was supposed to be MY DAY.

Now let me ask you, what a six-year old girl would do if someone ruined her day. Not just an ordinary day, but the birthday? Yes, you’re right. She would take revenge! There was simply no other thing to do to make him realize what he had done. That was what my little evil mind could think of. With not much of a plan, I planned to take his most precious thing- his scrapbook. I waited until all the guests left, then I tip toed to his room. Quickly I snatched his book, and then hid it under my dress I had a pen on the other hand. To be as sneaky as possible, I ran like a little monkey inside the bathroom. I locked the door, opened the scrapbook and started scribbling all over the pages, yes scribbling!  To tell you the truth, not only did I scribble all over it, I dared to write my name cutting all the ‘Nishchals’ I could see. After this tit for tat, I felt better.

Nevertheless, I still remember what punishment I had got I think it was too much for a six-year-old kid. I had to write a page that read, “I will never do such a thing in my life”. I tell you it was a big page, big for me at least. And my brother, well he didn’t talk to me for months.

I came back to Kathmandu when I was seven and honestly, I never had such an incident like that. I was rather quiet and calm and he was somewhere dealing with his own life. We lived our separate lives. We had both matured and acted like adults. I had started to miss those old days - even the “tit for tat” and all. Therefore, I decided to go to him. Every day, when he was practicing on his keyboard, I sat there quietly trying to learn the keyboard. I suddenly started feeling that he was always there when I needed help. “Bunu, why don’t you start playing something, like a flute, the guitar, the violin or just any instrument that you like?” he suddenly said one day.

Amazed by his question, I smiled my thanks said, “Why don’t you teach me something on the keyboard, dada?” Then again, like an older brother, he taught me to play a few songs. I was more than happy to spend time with him.  Jealousy or in Freudian terms “the sibling-rivalry” turned into appreciation. Instead of envying him, I started to look up to him. Eventually, he became my role model.

He has not only taught me how to play an instrument but has taught me more about life. After the small keyboard classes we had, I felt like I was a part of his life again. Something I had thought I would never be. It was the change in both of us. No, we never fought again.

After a few months, there was a small get together. He had stopped playing the keyboard because of his schoolwork. But there was one keyboard there and my brother had been staring at it, probably remembering the days when he could play it. I felt that I had to make him play the keyboard and make him realize that he shouldn’t have stopped playing it. But there I couldn’t speak a word amidst too many people.

But on the 28th of March 2003, which was my birthday. Like the one on the 6th , we had invited guests for celebration. My brother asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said, “dada, I want you to play the keyboard again, it’s been a year you haven’t touched it.”  He hesitated in front of the invitees. Yet, I was waiting for him to play the keyboard but he didn’t, until all the guests bid good-bye to the birthday girl. I heard a soothing sound emerging from my brother’s room. Assured, it was my brother’s finger on the keyboard. I ran into his bedroom and gave him a hug over the feeling that he actually fulfilled the birthday girl’s wish.

With that hug, I believed I had been forgiven for all the mischief that I had done in the past.