‘Di? Di?’ said the little boy, as he tore his gaze away from the open book on the table and focused his attention on his older sister, who was sitting on the bed and staring blankly at her phone.
Zoya looked at him, and nodded in acknowledgement.
‘Why don’t you ever make two ponytails?’
‘Because,’ she said passively, and went back to staring at her phone.
‘Tell na Di!’
‘What happened, Adi? Why do you want me to make two ponytails?’ said Zoya, now sitting up and noticing her brother for the first time.
He glanced sheepishly at the book in front of him before lifting it and setting it on Zoya’s lap. She watched as he traced his tiny fingers over the page titled Class Photograph 2013-2014: Nursery B, till they came to rest on a tiny face of a girl.
‘Di, see Meher. She’s the prettiest girl in my class and she always makes two ponytails.’
Zoya couldn’t help but smile as she got up from the bed, and looked at herself in the mirror. She decided to humour her baby brother for a bit.
‘So tell me more about this Meher,’ she said, running the comb through her hair and parting it into two halves.
‘She makes the best drawings in class.’
‘Okay, what else?’
’ And she likes strawberry ice candy. And after she eats it her lips become very pink.’
‘So do you talk to…?’
‘And she doesn’t like it when boys talk to her,’ he said impatiently, his gaze sad and steady on the photograph.
‘Here I made two ponytails. Happy?’ said Zoya, studying her twenty year old face in the mirror.
Aditya looked up expectantly and saw her. A frown swiftly set upon his face, his nose crinkled and his mouth went askew. He looked back at the photograph, as if to ensure she’d copied it right, then looked up again at her, disbelieving.
‘Do you like Meher more or Di more, Adi?,’ she asked, teasing him.
He picked up the book, threw one last disappointed glance at the sister he so admired, turned around and left the room, mumbling something that sounded like ‘You, Di. But she looks better in two ponies.’