Family Legacy of Sorrow and Pride

Chad Pillai
7 min readAug 11, 2021
My brother and I. I finished my first Army assignment in South Korea, and my brother had finished his four years in the Marine Corps.

My brother and I never met our grandfather; however, we share a common bond of sorrow and pride that crosses many intersections in time and space. The story begins in Brooklyn, New York, and travels worldwide to Asia and the Middle East.

Growing up in our grandmother’s home in Brooklyn, my brother’s and my awareness of our grandfather came from his painting in his Army uniform. My brother and I did not remember the family talking much about our grandfather. Still, his memory was a constant presence and eventually served as an inspiration for two boys growing up in challenging circumstances that suffered pain, abuse, and separation. We lived at our grandmother’s house until I was about 4-years old when we moved to Yonkers, NY. Life in Yonkers was a living hell for my brother and me. Those memories continue to haunt me today because many involve feeling helpless about not protecting my brother from the abuse we suffered. On the first of many occasions, my brother and I were separated; he went to live with a family friend of my mother.

During our separation, I suffered in silence as I continued to endure abuse at the hands of parental figures who were supposed to protect me. At some point, my brother and I were reunited; however, our reunion was short-lived after I reached a breaking point where I could no longer endure the torture my brother, and I suffered. One day, I chose to run away and felt immense guilt because I could not take my brother with me since we went to different schools. My plan was simple: run back to school and hide while living off yogurt and fruit rollups. The plan failed when the police found me one block from my school and returned me home. My failure made me angry, and I took my anger out on my brother, shouting to him that “I hate you!” as though it was his fault. Recalling that memory brings tears to my eyes as it would cause me further guilt years later.

My decision to run away led to a string of events that altered my brother’s and my life, resulting in a long-term separation as children. My brother and I were sent to the same children’s home in Yonkers, years apart. I lived in the children’s home for about two years before a family adopted me in Albany, NY. After I departed from the children’s home, my brother was placed in the same facility and eventually moved to a foster group home in…

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Chad Pillai

Military Officer, World Traveler, Novice Storyteller