“ I have always been there for him …. Whenever I could … and what do you mean by he left everything to me “
“ Jack … Jack …. Always the naïve one aren’t we …. You know very well what I mean …. I read his will … the house, money and everything down to his stupid collection of stamps … he’s left everything to you… there isn’t a nickel in the will for me”.
“ That proves who was there for him”, Jack said , with the hint of a smile showing on his face.
“ When were you there , as far as I remember you have spent the last 10 years of your life getting in and out of prison… I mean look at you …. You are the one standing handcuffed at our Father’s funeral”
“ I have had my set of problems, but that in no way means I did not care for him, I was the one who visited him when he was in the hospital , even when I was in prison … and you hot shot lawyer that you are … you never turned up”
How did they turn up like this Jack wondered, Jason was 2 years elder to him, the respected son of the family. He was always good with studies, graduated from the best law school in the country, and now worked with the most respected law firm in the country. Jack had always wondered what made them so different. Both were equally good in studies in school. He still remembered how proud their mother was, always telling anybody who would listen how good her sons were. She would say god has given her the most ideal children anybody would ask for. Jack was still in school when their mother died , he was still 12 years old. That is when the differences between him and Jason started to crop up. Jason behaved as if he was the boss of the house, as if he owned Jack. Their father was always away at work and mother was no longer at home to stop him from bossing around. Jack tolerated it for some time , partly because he thought he was too small to fight his brother and partly because he was still grieving his mother and somewhere deep down he believed that mother would come back and teach Jason a lesson. He had had enough of the harassment by the time he was 15 and ran away from home. That is when he fell into the wrong company. He indulged in petty thefts and drugs and was arrested for the first time on his 17th birthday. Somebody told the cops that there was drugs involved in the party, the cops arrested him and put him to into a correctional facility. Some correctional facility it was, that is where he came to know the others who would eventually lead him to a life of crime. He still remembered how his father had wept seeing him in that state, but then he was already too deep in it to come out. He felt bad for his father , but then he would think of Jason, how he would treat him now , it always strengthened his resolve not to return home. He was not all that bad … the situation made him so. The irony of the situation that was now amused him… his father had left him the house he never intended to return to, the house where Jason always thought he was boss…. Fate behaved in strange ways indeed.
“ You must be feeling very happy now that you have everything”, Jason inquired looking away from his brother.
“ Jason, you never understood me, you never will …. How do you expect me to be happy on my father’s funeral, I don’t have a heart of stone mind you “.
“ I did not care for you … that’s what you think … what do you think motivated me to be a lawyer in the first place”
“ Hah … that is some crap , you never defended me in any case as far as I remember”, Jack said looking disgusted.
“ I did not , because I couldn’t … I was not allowed to take outside cases, my firm did not allow that, but that does not mean I did not look into your cases, where do you think your lawyers were coming from , who do you think briefed them “.
“ Look at you … you are still trying to show your greatness … you still think you own me like you did 20 years ago, you know why I ran away from the house …. Because I was sick of you , sick of your bossing me around”.
“ Jack …. Whatever you think about me, I never wanted to boss you …. It was just that mother had died , and father was always busy with work… I thought it was my responsibility to look after you “.
“ And you did a mighty sloppy job of it “ , Jack said still feeling disgusted.
Why was Jason trying to be nice to him, was it because he wanted his share of the property or was he telling the truth. It was true Jack had never seen it that way, he had always thought of his brother as somebody who wanted to own him, boss over him. But then did he do that because he was really concerned about him.
“ Ya I did do a mighty sloppy job … you ended up in prison after all “
“ Look I just want to get this over with and go back to my cell, I am too drained to have any such conversation now”, said Jack
“ Fine have it your way , but I just want you to know that you are wrong about me , I did care about you , I still do , and ya I did visit father in the hospital more times than you did , we had conversations till the time he could talk , he told me himself that he was leaving everything to you , I agree I was angry on him for that, he said he had his reasons for doing so , I found it difficult to understand them then, but I think I do now, hope you understand them one day”,
“ And what were the reasons”, inquired Jack looking genuinely surprised at this sudden revelation by his brother.
“ Forget it , you would not believe me if I said anything “
“ Try me “
“ He said he was giving you a second chance at life, hope you take it properly “
“ Second chance … what second chance” , said Jack , he was really curious to know by now.
“ He said he has already given me everything he could, good education, a good life … but he could not give these things to you , he could never be there for you , so he wanted to give you whatever he had , so that you would understand him and maybe lead a respectable life after you come out of prison”
“ what “ , that is all Jack could say , he look bewildered
“ I know you don’t believe it , but that is the truth , and frankly I don’t mind not getting the house or the money , I just feel sad that I did not get anything , I mean he could have left me the stamp collection at least, even I have the right to some memories of him”. Jason looked at Jack , his eyes were watery , the pain inside him genuinely showed.
“ I did not even realize all this … I did not even know … I mean how could I know, I always thought of you as somebody mean who wanted to own everything I have …. I never realized you cared “
“ Let it be Jack… let’s get the funeral services started, let us leave our bonding for some other day”
The police took off the cuffs, the services started. Both the brothers did what needed to be done , said their final good bye’s to their father. People came and offered their condolences, there was aunt Martha, Uncle Lenny , Neighbors Sally and Samantha, Relatives who had come all the way from across the country. Jack never knew they had so many relatives, some looked at him with disgust, some looked sad to see him in this state , one even tried to shame him in public by listing out all his crimes , but then Jason prevented it, always the protector, how he had misread him , how he had always thought his brother was trying to own his life, but all he was trying to do was protect him from becoming what he had become. More people came and went and finally it was just he and his brother left with the two policemen who had escorted him here and were waiting to take him back. Jack looked at the spot where his father was buried , tears welled up his eyes , oh how he missed his father, if he had not been the fool he was , he could have had many conversations with father, had many more years to spend with him, many more years to actually understand what his brother was , Jack hated himself for missing out on those years. Never again he vowed to himself. Never again will I go to prison. I will be a changed man when I come back . I will spend more time with my brother.
“ Time to go “ , the policeman said to Jack bringing him out of his thoughts
“ Just a moment sir , I really need to tell my brother something”
“ Jason, I really don’t know what went wrong between us , why did I never understand you or your intentions , but I promise you one thing , I will be a changed man once I come out of prison”, Jack looked sorry for his actions
“ Father has given you a second chance, take it well , and ya always remember I will be there for you if you ever need me”
“ Jason, I don’t want it , I don’t deserve it, I will leave all that in your name, you are right we’ll stay together , like brothers for the first time since 20 years, it will be great”
“ Jack , lets discuss this some other day “
“ No , no really , somebody might misuse the property when I am in prison, and who knows , if I end up doing drugs again , I might just pawn off the house , I can’t trust myself on that front anymore, and what is the harm in you taking care of the house, it is our house, you are my brother”
“ Ok if you really think that would be the best course for both of us , so be it , I will send some papers to prison tomorrow you can sign them”
“ you do that , and Jason I love you , am sorry for all these years” Jack said finally extending his arm towards the policeman who was standing ready to cuff him
The policeman handcuffed Jack, and he was escorted back to the police car waiting to take him back to prison. He felt good about what he had just done. Jason had always been the responsible of the two . Jack knew he had done the right thing. Oh Father would be so happy.
Jason looked at the police car drive away, He looked at his father’s grave
“ Jack … Jack …. Always the naïve one aren’t we ….”, he smiled and walked back to his car.