On the second floor balcony of their three-storey house on Abul Khairat Road in Becharam Dewri, Dhaka, two brothers were fighting.
"You cannot go to war. You are too young," stated sixteen-year-old Rakib definitively. His younger brother, twelve-year-old Nayeem, had always been a bit of a wild child. Enacting fighting sequences he had witnessed on television was his favourite pastime. However, this was not pretend anymore. It would have to be Rakib, as the older brother, who would go to war. It was only fitting.
"You can't go! You have a million responsibilities. What will happen to Mother and Yasmin apa if you go? Little Paru can't even feed herself yet. You are needed here. I will go. I will fight for our nation," protested Nayeem, his newly developed voice cracking on the last sentence. Why didn't his older brother understand? He was ready for this.
This was a daily battle. One night Nayeem heard something as he slept. He snuck out of his room to see that Rakib had left his bed and was sleeping on the bare floor. Nayeem approached him.
"What are you doing, bhaiya?"
Rakib opened his eyes.
"I'm practicing," he said. "There won't be a bed when I go to war."
Nayeem considered this. In the next moment he lay down beside his brother, curled up on his side, and closed his eyes.