“As you’re growing up and you’re close, you can’t trust anyone the way you trust your sister, but also they have the power to wound you in ways no one else really does.” —Ally Condie
This quote I read on Instagram struck me like lightning, took me to my past.
It was the first day of a cold November when my mother gave birth to a baby girl in one of the best hospitals in Delhi. I was nine at that time. An age when you feel too big to have a sibling, and I already had a first cousin; whom I loved dearly. I was home alone waiting to see this new member of the family, and I thanked God that it was a “she” not a “he”. Had it been a “He”, life would have been terrible after that. In a few days, it was a homecoming for dad’s little bundle of joy. My dad and I never got along too well during my childhood. I was heartbroken as soon as I saw her. She was bloody beautiful and what hurt me most was that she was “fair”. I looked at mom, and I looked at her, and I looked at myself, and I wanted to ask my mom, are you sure she belongs to us?
It was just the beginning of my miseries. I almost asked God, can I swap her for a puppy? But for the love we share now, I am glad he didn’t take me seriously. Soon, she was a month and a half old, and it was decided that her christening and baptism will be on my birthday. It was going to be a combined celebration. What thrilled me was just the idea of celebration. My beloved grandmother was her godmother. We had lots of guests, and all our relatives were there for the baptism, my birthday was just an add-on. I was excited to see the number of gifts piling up, though. All of which were handed to me by the guests coming in. For once I had little affection for my sister who brought good luck for me, or so I thought. I could not wait to open the gifts, and I started even though some close relatives were still there. I still remember, 25 gift boxes and not a single one for me. All had baby dresses, blankets and gifts for the ‘madam newborn’. Yes, I felt what you just felt for me, just that. She was the only Barbie doll I got to play with, and you know barbie dolls back then were the prettiest dolls. Huh!
When she grew up enough to join the school, my friends would ask if she was my sister? And I would be like well yes and a no, my mom got her from the “kachra ka dibba” (waste bin). Yes, yes I know what you are thinking, that I am mean what else you would say to such annoying questions? In general siblings look-alike, while we looked completely different and the worst part was that it was in the shade of skin. Her first day in school and my sister managed to strike hard at my well-maintained rapport in the school among my teachers. You must be wondering how a small innocent child can do anything to damage reputations. So let me get right to what she did, she pulled the teacher’s chair right before the teacher was about to sit. Boom, the teacher, was on the floor. Our mother was called much before the PTM (ha ha ha). I liked the statement the teacher passed with a shock on her face “is she Subie’s sister? I am surprised, as Subie is such a sober and simple girl and to have a nasty sister like this!!” For once I didn’t hate the question “is she Subie’s sister?”
With each passing day, her naughtiness kept increasing. At the same time, she found an easy and foolproof way to save herself from getting beaten up at home. Any guesses? She became the eyes and ears for my mother. Yes, my mother started using her as a live camera to keep an eye on her elder teenage daughter. My good luck, I was so busy studying and enjoying the school, that I never fell into the mushy things teenagers used to do in the similar age. I know, I know it sounds weird, but that’s me, different.
I do remember one incident, where she made use of mom’s love and also used to take advantage of being the younger one. I was busy unscrewing the curtain rod, and she walked in and tried to disturb me. I slapped her to scare her away. I am dead sure only sound came, but she was not hurt (like all elder sisters thing). My mother yelled from the kitchen, “what was that sound?” Till then the devil was smiling, but the moment she heard mom, she started crying and went to her complaining. By then she had developed a tear gas mechanism, ready to roll tears any point of time. Mom came to the room fuming in anger and pinched me hard, and all I could do was give her a look as to will see you later. This became the pattern after that day. We developed the tom and jerry kind of relation. Every time it would be the “Poor Tom” getting beaten (read as me). Our parents’ actions, our age gap and my mindset created a massive difference between the both of us.
After completing her 10th, dad sent her to our hometown as he wanted her to take up science, and for that she had to change school, change state and be away in a dingy hostel place. No mobile phone, no Social Media etc. was there at the time to stay connected. I never questioned dad, nor did I feel bad. I am not sure, but I can’t remember being sad either. And I don’t think I even spoke to her much during the time she was in the distant land. And it tells me such a loser I was back then. So, our distance grew further, and she made new friends, I was not sure that her hate list had our dad in the top or me? Or maybe I did not exist for her “the out of sight out of mind” funda. After completing her schooling, she was back home. She didn’t get through her entrance to do nursing and dad took her to Gwalior to do the same. Again I didn’t fight for her because she didn’t make me feel that she didn’t want to do it herself.
Well, with where she is today, I am glad I didn’t let her have her way. I would go to meet her on weekends, taking the 6-hour train journey to be with her for a few hours and then return. Each time accompanied by my other cousins, but this too was never regular. We did start talking a little bit, but still, I didn’t know of her inner thoughts or what was on her mind. And when she came home, then she would always carry out all the naughtiness she could to drive our father and me nuts. There was a very short gap between her final homecoming and my leaving home, and again we didn’t have enough chance to bridge the gap. Few incidents out of my anger and/or her childishness caused further rifts. In spite of everything, she did graduate with the highest marks in a stream she never wanted to do.
And then we finally grew up. I don’t know how I don’t remember when. Slowly, gradually the distance between our hearts grew shorter. We acknowledged the fact that we are sisters; the bond of trust grew, and we became friends. Better late than never! But, loving your sister has its negatives too. You end up sharing your stuff. You can’t keep secrets to yourself anymore, and you have that itch to share with your sister. She would be very tactful to take away my things, but I should acknowledge that she would buy me gifts too. She is my critic who would never leave a chance to criticise and correct me at the right time and for the right reasons. I am no less; every time I visit mom, she would be made to serve me. Yes, she won’t do it naturally, so I sometimes threw tantrums (hidden revenge) to make her spoil me.
We are in the new era of our life, with more robust and deep bonds, and now she is again off to a different continent altogether. Still, it has not made any difference to our love, we video call almost every day, we share, we feel, and we know each other’s mind as to what’s on it.
For all her sufferings and misses in life, God has decided to tick off her wish list one at a time. I am so happy for her.
I would wrap it up with a note to my sister;
“My Sister. You are my mirror, a witness to everything I do and my partner in crime too, you are my defence attorney and at times the radio to spread my news. We agreed to disagree, I love you so much, and at times I want to wring your neck hard. We fight, but we always make up. We argue, we have our insecurities, yet we make up until we start again. You know my vulnerabilities, even with all this I tell you that at times you are the reason I wished I was the only child (ROFL). I love you to the moon and back. God bless you, my darling. “