My sister is physically three years younger to me, mentally probably a year older! I have never had a better companion in my life. I don’t remember much about the time when she was born, except that she seemed to come from nowhere and Mom seemed much happier with a flat belly. I was told that I was a ‘big girl’ now, and had to take care of her. Being three years into life, you can imagine how busy I was, but a big stack of our old family photos are testimony to my unaffected love and curiosity toward this soft, white, round thing, leaking from multiple regions. Mom wouldn’t let me carry her around and would allow me to hold her only in her presence which was a clear indication of how valuable this soft, white, round thing, leaking from multiple regions was. But Mom hardly minded the leakage; To her, she was a treasure of tactile pleasure. I always wondered how clutching a finger, curling lips into a smile or uttering a few unintelligible syllables were major achievements of this little creature. At first, losing a part of my parents’ attention was somewhat intimidating. But I seemed to forget this hint of jealousy whenever I looked into her eyes that seemed to be hurriedly scanning and marveling at everything in the world. And then noticing me around, she would try to reach for my face with her miniature hands. I didn’t bother the thumping; It was nice being someone’s toy..an object of entertainment.
She seemed to grow faster than me, as if trying to make up for the 3 years of delay in arrival. It is hard to tell the exact moment when she caught up with me, but it has been a lovely journey since then. Games, fights, mischief and secrets. I usually walked alone to the school. But when she entered my school in 1st grade, we’d race to the school together. I’d go to check on her in the recess: whether she finished her lunchbox or not, whether her knees were bruised, and whether I needed to punch someone bullying her. On days when I’d be late after my classes at the school, I could be sure she would make Anna uncle, our autowala, wait for me. We often ran out of space in that small auto and I’d generally make her sit on my lap, telling her all the time not to stick her hand or head out. Getting back home, having our foreheads kissed, there was one linear series of tiles that were supposed to be walked on while having our socks still on, so that after having changed in front of each other and playing some water-games in the bathroom, we could use another parallel series of tiles to walk with clean and damp feet. Mom would call from the drawing room and we’d rush to take our places in front of the TV to watch our favorite program on MTV hosted by Nikhil Chinappa while having lunch. One of our favorite afternoon pastimes was playing interview-interview in front of the mirror. Mom’s make-up kit aroused us equally and I would usually prefer to play a make-up artist (actually I played Shehnaaz Hussain) and she would ask me several genuine questions to which I’d feign several fanciful answers. Once I applied one of my “magic formulas” on her hair and I’m not sure what happened. The last thing I remember is mom had to use a pair of scissors to untangle them. But nothing deterred our spirits. We’d continue the game, next day, same time, same place, with a new (fake) celebrity!
In the evenings, when she was still learning to play badminton and could not return my shots properly and I had to keep going after the shuttle all the time, I’d lose temper very often and shout at her. Seeing this, dad would come and softly explain to me the significance of being patient with her. And the next time she’d miss a shot, instead of shouting, I’d go to the other side of the net and tell her how to do it. Then dad bought us skates. But it was a single pair. So we had to time-slice their usage. While one skated, the other had to just jog along. Sometimes she’d pick up some bricks and place them in front of me to help me practice better. At night, when we were sorting out our homeworks, she’d sometimes seek my help instead of going to dad. And I would be overjoyed at this opportunity and start giving my sermons and she’d put her hands to her ears and run away from me..and I’d run after her to help her with her homework. Sometimes dad would scold her about something, and I would come to her rescue and tell dad, “Let it be papa, she’s just a kid!”. While going to bed, we’d both repeat the duas after dad and when he was gone after switching off the lights, we’d muse at our general wonderings and share our daily updates about school (going ahead, it was guys)..
Had it not been for my sister’s comforting companionship, I don’t think I’d have ever had so much fun, so much love in life. We are each others’ pillars of support and strength, yet we love pulling each others’ legs. We see very less of each other now, being in different cities, but whenever we meet, I realize we have never really been separated emotionally. There’s an invisible chord of unconditional love that keeps us together all the time, no matter how physically distant we are. Having her has made me more patient, more responsible, more trusting and more caring. So please don’t deprive your child of this beautiful experience of self-discovery. Screw population control! Have at least two kids!! And if you are really bothered by population explosion, then have at most two kids; Follow “Hum do, humaare do”! J