He fumbled with the cutlery, then looked up with wide, panicked eyes, to see if anyone had noticed his blunder.

We all pretended not to notice, going so far as to talk about how loud the air-conditioner rattled from its place in the apartment window. It was pointless, meaningless and yet, we protected his fragile self out of habit.

For we were family and sometimes, that meant doing this even when you didn’t understand why it had to be you.

(c) S. Harricharan

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