To Brand a Brother
When the world was six years old, school start came closer. Caleb and Abid were getting prepared for it by Mother who showed them the shapes and sounds of letters. The “O” seemed fairly easy, but then Mother said that the circle also meant “nothing”. The world of the grown-ups was confusing!
That summer, Mother’s sister married a man who was a real teacher and had a real Ford. A Sunday in August he came, picked the boys’ family up and took them to his house with the car. When they arrived, the twins stayed outside to explore the foreign area, but with no other kids or toys around they were soon bored.
It was then that Caleb noticed the Ford. The door was unlocked, so he climbed inside. This was something different from his little toy cars! With loud engine-sounds and attempts to turn the steering wheel and change gears, he was in boy-heaven. The pedals were definitely out of his reach, but he touched all other devices. Suddenly, he heard a click. He had pushed the cigarette lighter which had turned hot and was ready to be used. Proud of his success, he wanted to show Abel.
With his passenger next to him, Caleb demonstrated how a car sounded and how an experienced driver behaved. After a while, he nonchalantly pushed the cigarette lighter knob. When it popped out, he held it in front of his brother’s eyes, expecting signs of admiration. But no reaction came, so to convince Abid that he really had made the lighter hot, Caleb impatiently put it on his brother’s cheek. Now, there were several reactions: a loud scream, a flood of tears, and an intense, red circle glowing on Abid’s left cheek.
Crying violently, Abid ran into the living-room where he caught everybody’s attention. Mother stood up, and in front of the teacher-in-law, she loudly and correctly spelled out the letter that was engraved on her son’s cheek, “O, Abid!!!”
Hiding in a corner, Caleb wondered why Mother didn’t say that a circle also meant “nothing.”