The day the baby was brought home was the day that life changed for Jay. At the age of 4 he knew that all the attention would now go to the baby and not to him. He had been used to lots of hugs from his mother Annie and his doting aunties Maude and Jackie were always at the house. They would bring him little toy cars and his favourite snack, those raisins in the little boxes.
Jay was a mild tempered kid by nature but he did like the attention and even in his young mind he was aware of the fact that he needed it for some reason. So when the baby was brought in ceremoniously in its carry chair and placed before him to admire, Jay threw his favourite red car across the room, stood up, stamped his foot and screamed.
Annie backed away in shock. Her son had never done this before! The baby started to cry too and soon Annie joined in, her hormones all over the place. This set Maude off (she was emotional at the best of times) and when Jackie came in from the garage carrying all sorts of baby equipment with her she was greeted by a whole room of snivelling wrecks!
Jackie sent Annie to bed and sent Maude to make a cup of tea. She swooped Jay up in her arms and hugged him tight, telling him that he was a big brother now but that he would always be Annie’s baby. He stopped his whining and snuggled into her. And for the first time he snuck a peek at the baby who was sniffling away in the carry chair.
Jackie laughed and sat Jay down in his little armchair. She unravelled the baby from the carry chair and brought him over to Jay. “Meet your brother darling. His name is Ved.”
After having a well – deserved rest, Annie ventured back downstairs and was over the moon to see Jay, Jackie and baby Ved all snuggled up on the couch together with Jay telling a story to his little brother.
When Sam walked in that night from his job as security officer at the local bank, he could see in an instant that his family was complete. Annie was feeding Ved by the fire and Jay was happily playing with his cars, keeping up a running commentary aimed at Ved about what he was doing.
Jay couldn’t help but be interested in the tiny creature with all its blonde fluffy hair and after a few days he was as happy as he had ever been, even offering to help Annie change the diapers!
Jay and Ved grew up together the best of friends. Jay was always on the lookout for his baby brother and felt the need to protect him because Ved was so small. Everyone commented on how tiny Ved was. He was a skinny kid even though he ate like a horse and he was teased at school about his height and weight. Jay got into countless fights with the bigger kids and Ved was grateful to him for keeping the bullies at bay.
Both boys did well at school and Ved was especially good at computers. As he got older he would sit for hours in the library looking at websites and creating his own programs on the computer in there.
Although a good student, Jay was more interested in sports that lessons and his favourite game was basketball. With his height and athletic build, Jay soon became the darling of the court and was noticed at the first school game he played by the gorgeous cheerleader, Rochelle.
Jay and Rochelle became an item and were often seen strolling hand in hand down the beach together. They were the perfect couple and complemented each other amazingly. They were both into sports and spent a lot of time playing squash and jogging round the park but they managed to find the time to give something back to the community.
Rochelle had suffered the tragedy of losing her older sister Sophia to leukaemia and she and Jay decided to help out in the children’s ward at the local hospital. It was here that Jay met Mega, a teenager who had big dreams but was stuck at home caring for his father who had been injured in the war.
The unlikely friendship started in the hospital canteen one day when Mega was waiting for his father to finish his physiotherapy. Jay and Mega struck up a friendship over a plate of greasy chips. Jay could sense that Mega was a needy person and Mega could tell that Jay was a good guy. And god knows he needed a friend.
Ved noticed that his brother was spending less and less time at home. He was always with that goodie goodie girlfriend of his and had no time left for Ved. They used to have a real laugh together and Jay used to look out for him at school. But now Ved had to spend all his time in the library at school just to avoid getting jumped on by the bullies. And all the time Jay was smooching his girl on the field!
When Jay was 16, tragedy struck. There was a hold-up at the bank and Sam was shot. Annie raced to the hospital and Jay and Ved were called out of class. They were sat down by the principal and told that their father was in a bad way and that they should head straight for the Emergency Room.
The boys managed to find their mother sitting in a room off to the side of the general waiting area. They had to push past drunks and druggies, screaming kids and frail old ladies to get to her.
Jay would always remember what happened next and it would haunt him for the years to come. It all happened in slow motion (like in the movies Jay thought to himself). His mother was sitting on a rigid orange plastic chair clutching a polystyrene cup of tea.
As she raised her eyes to meet those of her oldest son the cup slid from her hand and the steaming liquid washed all over her legs. She did not bat an eye and it was at this moment that Jay knew that his father was dead. And he knew that for the second time in his young life things would never be the same again.