My mom thought I would be a boy. She already had a daughter 4yrs ago and this time hoped for a boy…then it would be a “complete family”. But, it was not to be.
I was born and came into this world howling and screaming..I don’t know if my sister was quiet when she was born. My mom had both of us through Caesarean section..this was in the 1970’s, and there was a medical complication and she was bed ridden for 3-4 months after my birth. She has told me stories of how I would keep crying and crying and not allow her to get her much needed rest. I was the lil devil who was always hungry!! 🙂
As we grew up my sister was this Petite, sweet, innocent, thin child..you would never know she was in the same house. On the contrary I was the boisterous, loud, rolly polly “thing from the zoo” who lived in the same house.
My sister was the pretty one, dainty and the typical “Mallu girly” and she was the darling “mol” for everybody. I din’t have the “mol” after my name…heck I din’t even have a proper name. My sister had this lovely, a very common Christian name and when it was time to name me, my mom’s best friend created a name for me…a jumble of my sister’s name!!! and that was a unisex name in our “Mallu people’s” society! So here I was stuck with a name that a common person would ask me twice just to make sure and have that weird look on their face that would put Jim Carrey to shame!
So the differences grew..we were as different as chalk and cheese. I was bigger in size (damn those genes I say) and would always get mistaken for being the 1st born. Whoever said the 2nd borns had to be smaller and look younger???? “Oh so you are —- mol? You were so fair when you were smaller” the relatives who visited us would exclaim and my parents would join the laughter and correct them that I was the younger one and she is the eldest. There would be a hurried and embarrassed apology and a funny dig at my roundedness. After they left, my mom would nudge me to eat less–“see what people are thinking. They think you are the eldest because you eat so much”. Poor me, I do have a good appetite, what can I do? My sister hated that about me–that I could eat 2 mouths more than her, even if she tried to eat something that she liked so much, she could never eat beyond a point. Whereas anything and everything would slide over oh so easily into my bottomless pit.
Thats how our childhood days were, cat fights, fights for toys, books, clothes. She could fit into my clothes too, whereas I would not fit into my own clothes after a year. She would be jealous that I could eat so much, I would be jealous that she is so thin.
One We had been to Kerala for one of summer vacations to our ancestral house-I was around 6yrs and she was around 10. My mom and aunts decided to make the “Achappams” also called Rose Cookies and told my cousin to get the metal mould from the neighbour to make the snack. My cousin sis called out to us and 4 of us decided to run and get it from the next house. Now picture this carefully–our houses in Alleppey, Kerala are all built on the banks of the river and fallen coconut tree trunks are laid as small bridges to cross over small areas of not so firm ground with the waters passing beneath them. And boats keep crossing every 5 minutes carrying passengers much like the buses on roads. Boats are the only means of communication here.
So the fours of us went-hoppity skippity jump to the next house and we had to cross one of those logs to cross over. My cousins who were experts at doing this every day managed to walk across easily..but easy it was not meant to be. The first in line, slipped on some moss and fell back and down we went like a pack of dominoes toppling back on the one behind. I was the last in line as I was the smallest. The 2 ahead and my sister in front of me managed to fall back onto land. The next thing I knew, I was in the waters, clinging onto the log for my dear life. All I could hear were screams of 4 kids and mine being the loudest. And wait..there was another scream…the horn of a boat which was going to pass by me and the waves would carry me away under them! Screams grew louder, my cousins ran back to call for help and my sister was standing near me crying in fright.
Before I could go down under and vanish from the face of this earth, I could see my dad turning into our row of houses-he had gone to the nearby shop to get a magazine. As soon as he saw my sister crying near the log, he came running towards us and jumped into the water and pulled me out-half dead with fright and screaming. That was my near death experience for me-and for my sister. She got the beating of her life from my dad for taking me and running behind my cousins. I could’ve died and she would have been the “child responsible for freak accident of younger sister” in the papers.
Years went on and it was always a love hate relationship between us. I was the so called accompaniment whenever she had to go out with her friends for movies – they could never have their “older girls gang fun” because of the lil monster with “extend-able ears” who might spill out their secrets. Bribes flew across to keep each other happy and to keep each others mouths shut. We did have our own share of fun, our secrets, a lovely life together. She used to write stuff for my debate competitions in school and I would bring home the cups and certificates. I could see the pride in her eyes.
Then came the time when it was time for my sister’s wedding-and it dawned on me! We would no more be together. We would no more have those fights and sisterly moments. We might not be able to see each other too. It was a dramatic change, a truth that changed me. It was actually then that I truly grew from being a simple college going girl to a true adult. Truth that life takes a turn, that people cannot be taken for granted. Realization that beneath all those fights, beneath all those bribes of doing and getting things done, beneath all that jealousy I did love her and that I would miss her terribly.
My sister found an amazing man – a man who could never be better than anyone, even if my parents had found her a guy according to our religion, language and culture. He is the brother I never had, he is a friend I can discuss anything with. He is the head of our family after my father passed away. He is a friend, philosopher, guide, and much much more to me. He is someone I look up to and I am glad he came into my sister’s life.
Then it was time for the next new entrant in our family-another boy we are all proud of-my one and wonleeeee nephew…my sister’s son. I was the first one to see him along with my BIL…a tiny bundle of flesh and hair, our pride and joy–the moment when I became an aunt! It was a wonderful feeling, unparalleled in comparison. A maternal aunt is like a 2nd mother, and I always feel my nephew is my child too. I’ve heard many of my friends claim they feel the same too.
We have grown closer over the years, been there for each other-I do not know what it would be to have a brother, but I am glad I have a sister. Sisters are the best. Its great to have a sister…though I may not have said it many a time–I Love you dear sis and thanks for everything you have done for me. On this special day I wish you a lovely day and a wonderful year ahead. Stay blessed. Happy Birthday!.
And no, she still does not look like a 43yr old, mother of a 18yr old boy! Damn!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Mol = daughter in the Malayalam Language