My first memories of her are from a day when I used to tease her mercilessly about her pudgy, almost invisible neck. I remember jokingly suggesting to Mom that we should hang her upside down by her feet, so that it would make her neck elongate and materialize. In the years since, my sister and I have been in a whirlwind of experiences – laughing at the happenings around us, arguing and fighting, ganging up – sometimes against each other and sometimes together against the rest of them, crying together and then making up and smiling through our tears. We were born almost seven years apart which would often put us in different time eras, where lifestyles and social conventions would be poles apart. With me in college and my sister still at school, she was a baby to me. And to her, I was yet another adult with my own understanding of rights and wrongs to pitch at her. But I guess when you cross a certain age, life blends the years together and the age difference doesn’t appear to exist anymore. You understand and relate to each other more and become more accepting of decisions taken by the other as an adult. More often than not, the experiences you now encounter on a daily basis are not so different anymore. Experiences and incidents make more sense to us and talks seem less like lectures and more like perspectives now.
Which is why when I wanted to give my parents a surprise and not give them even an inkling about my husband and my moving back to India – bags and all – it was executed so flawlessly! We had made our decision a month back and through all that time I fibbed on every single phone call, letting a little bit of upset seep into my voice at my not being able to come back. But the star of the charade was the little sister – she deserves an Oscar I tell you! To live with them day in and day out and to put up with the charade, to not give away the surprise, to witness Mom pine for her elder one, sometimes even cheekily instigate the topic so it would appear more ‘genuine’ and then message me on WhatsApp saying ‘Mom’s almost crying that she’s not been able to see you – I don’t know if I should console her or laugh!’ And she kept up with the acting for one whole month; I couldn’t have done it for a day. I stopped responding to Mom on Skype only doing voice calls instead. I knew she would take one look at me and figure it out! By the time we landed – about a dozen more people knew – our neighbours, my sister’s colleagues, my in-laws and even our house help. Unable to keep it in, she had been revealing the surprise to all these people and swearing them to secrecy! It’s a miracle no one leaked it! She had even concocted a story about inviting her three colleagues to lunch and got my Mom to cook food so there’d be something to eat when we landed!
Landing at the doorstep and watching my mother’s reaction was priceless. I now know literally what it means when you say ‘jaw dropping’ surprise. It was a good one though, considering she broke into happy tears a few seconds later. Fifteen minutes later she still couldn’t digest it and pinched me twice to make sure her first born is actually sitting next to her! Dad’s was even funnier. He walked in the door at lunch time – my sister had ensured that he would be home for lunch – she’s a master at emotional blackmail! So in he walks, looks at us, and goes ‘Hello’ and continues walking. My husband, seated next to me, goes ‘Hello’ himself! And I’m thinking what a waste, he knew! And then two seconds later, it clicks in and he does a major double take!!! And then he couldn’t stop laughing and smiling! I’ll never forget those moments. My failing memory is also aided by the fact that my sister filmed both these scenes!!!! We must have been the metaphorical chief guests of the day, but in all honesty – my sister was the star of the show! I couldn’t have pulled that off!
Yes, sisters are truly a special breed. Close friends as well, who’ve become sisters over the years. And while on this topic, there are two other groups that I have recently come into close contact with, that deserve special mention. One is a group of women bloggers of indomitable spirit, women with grit, compassion, a huge heart, the attitude to lift and support one another and much, much more. The other is a group of us who came together because of our love for a common sitcom! These are women I can laugh with, tear up with, bitch with, vent my frustrations on, share my fears with, bond with, and argue with (and there have been heated arguments too, trust me!) knowing it would still not be held against me personally. Intellectual, well read, accomplished women from all different fields of life, women who can confidently offer perspective on various topics. I have learnt from their experiences and been moved by their life stories. And I have seen myself change, learnt to be more accepting and less judgmental. These are women I do not have to be conscious around, I can just be myself. And these groups, Indiblogeshwaris and Arshifans, are the groups that have taught me the true meaning of the word ‘sisterhood’. Life may take me in different directions, we might drift apart someday (I do hope that doesn’t happen!) but I know in my heart, that the time spent with them is something I will truly cherish all my life!
I would love to hear your views!