Childhood is what one goes back to more often than not. That’s how stories are formed right? Memories. Memories are all you have to stick on to, to get back to ‘those days’, live them all over again. And we, at least I, never get tired of them. Now that I am married, I realise how my childhood was shaped is so important in living life the way I want to. It also makes me realise the importance of my relationship with my elder sister. And how we have come from almost hating each other to being the best friends that we are now… This feeling was reassured when while reading Shobha De’s Speedpost, she happened to mention in one of the letters to her children about her relationship with her sisters.
For me, my relationship with my 3 years elder to me sister was a taken-for-granted one. When she was in her teens, I hated being around her for all the teen-drama that she would put up (only to be faced with them later :P). I am pretty sure I left no stone unturned in being a pesky little typical younger sibling. Our fights were ugly and nasty, thankfully only resorting to verbal ones! I guess our mother was pretty happy about that. For most younger siblings, elder siblings (without their immediate knowledge) are their personal guide to ‘what not to do’ and ‘what to do’; in general and in life. I have learnt quite a lot of things from my sister about handling my parents. Most importantly, I have learnt how life can be so unruly and so big. Big in the sense of making decisions. My sister is a perfect example of a Libran – she balances out everything very tactfully. But now that I come to think of it, I never wanted to be like her in academics. Yes, again, as any other younger sister, I would be enthralled by her wardrobe, her stationery – you know, her stuff in general. I would want to borrow things from her and be denied of it, simply because those are the perks of being an elder sibling.
The biggest academic decision I made in life was because of my sister! I knew becoming a doctor involved 9-10 years of education and that was completely out of the options! I did not want to get into engineering because I had seen my sister study so much, that too in every six months! I simply opted for a lesser chosen path, while my peers rushed towards others. And thank God I did! I love the way it all turned out to be!
So when my sister finished her degree and was all set to lead an independent life in her favourite city, I didn’t quite realise what I would be missing. We hardly had time for each other during those years as we were busy in our own lives, while also disapproving of each other’s ways. I definitely missed her, but I can’t recall why. Yes, we had our own share of gossip, secrets when we were together; but it faded when she moved to a much busier phase of life in her college. She left to build a career when I just started out on my degree college… But the phone calls brought us closer somehow, and we also started writing to each other. A year after I finished my graduation, I moved to Bangalore in search of a career.
That changed the world for me. May be because we weren’t the same anymore. My sister gave me independence, she gave me a new world. She brought me up like an elder sister. She fought for me against my family, my mother. She let me take my decisions – even if it meant learning a lesson or two from it. That said, she also acted like a possessive elder one. She bought me expensive gifts on my birthday and I would be excited as a child! We fought, we argued, but at the end of the day – we had to come to each other. Away from our family, we enjoyed each other’s company so much! She made me travel, she took me along with her everywhere – unlike avoiding me when I was much younger. We shared secrets of an adult life, whiled away weekend nights like that! She became my version of the cool mother, the supercool sister and the elder possessive brother. My first job was also because my sister had a great network and was passed on an email about the requirement 🙂
But what did not change was the fact that I took her for granted. I would see my mother and her younger sister catch up when they would visit each other, and I would wonder how my relationship with my sister would be. Only when both of us got married, I realised what I had taken for granted. Not being in the same country was something I never thought of! Hell, I thought we would end up settling in the same city! But may be the world has its ways of making you value people more, and a slightly cruel one was this.
Recently I read somewhere, siblings are soul-mates for life. They indeed are. I miss my sister on so many occasions, and I only wish that we should’ve been in the same country so that we could rush to each other, knowing that she is in reach. I could visit her, just like my mother did to meet her siblings. Forming memories… Now that both of us are married, there is so much new happening in life every day. As we take on a new phase of life there’s so much more to share – a wonderful feeling. And technology has found a way to make it all seem okay by allowing us to video chat once in a while. On those dreaded video chats we joke about being in the same country and threatening our husbands about abandoning them when in a bad mood, because we would have the sibling to run to. Where I could just pick up the phone and call my sister without thinking twice, I now have to wait a whole twelve hours to check if we can talk.
The only feeling that remains is missing my sister, along with the bright bright hope of being in the same country, sooner. All I could give her as a material gift when she got married was a hand-stitched table cloth. But emotionally, we both know what a treasure box of memories we have taken to our new lives in the form of memories, the key to which lies deep in our hearts.
Those chai sessions, those crazy weekends when an hour without chai would be sacrilege, have vanished. That cup of chai was much tastier and delectable, because there was life to share on those lovely cloudy days of Bangalore, in that small doll house of ours…