I was 3 years old when a tiny baby entered my life. She was severely premature and my family worried that she might not even make it. But the little spitfire that she is, she got better and grew up far too quickly. I remember our childhood years – we used to drive each other nuts over absolutely nothing at all. She’d bonk me on the head and run away and I used to become red-faced with anger and chase after her. Or she would run down the stairs and announce that she’d ‘reserved’ the front seat of the car (despite the fact that we had a weekly car seating arrangement that had been cemented in stone). Sometimes we’d be playing with each other, tickling each other and she’d say something that would tick me off instantly. A tickling session would turn into a full-blown fight. Bodily scratches and pinches were not uncommon, and Amma used to go crazy trying to keep us from ‘going at the other’. We would be made to go into separate rooms, not allowed to talk for a whole hour, or we’d be blasted until one (or the both of us) started crying. But somehow, the instant that Amma intervened, a divine light would shine on us both and Amma would become the enemy, creating conflict between two sisters who loved each other very much.
As we stepped into our teenage years, the nature of our fights and subsequent apologies changed. A fight that usually ended up with both of us crying, would now end with one of us apologising. Numerous hand written (and often ornately-decorated!) apology notes were slipped beneath bedroom doors, with the message-bearer knocking once and then running away quickly… We started telling our parents to give us the space to sort out our fights by ourselves.
Eventually, we grew up – a little. But not much has changed. We both still know exactly what buttons to push to make the other furiously angry in an instant. Amma is usually chased out of the room when we fight, so that we can sort it out by ourselves. We live in different cities now and heart-felt ‘whatsapp’ messages have replaced the hand-written apology notes. Bodily scratches and pinches are much rarer, and long nights of gossip have replaced the tickling sessions. And we both know (and remind each other often) of how much we mean to each other.
But if there’s something that I’ve learnt from this all – its that its important to fight. Its important for parents to give their children the space to sort out their own issues. After all, if they don’t pick up this skill as children, what would happen when they grow up? What would happen when parents are no longer around to resolve issues?
And so.. its important for my sister to know that regardless of how much we might annoy each other, regardless of the other people who enter our lives, regardless of the stupid things we might say (or the important things we might miss to say) and regardless of where we live, or how busy we might be, she’s still one of the most important people in my life. Regardless of anything, she’d always have my unconditional support. Its important for my sister to know that even though I might call her an idiot and yell at her (even unreasonably), it still doesn’t change the fact that I love her more than she could ever imagine. And its very important to know that no fight – big or small, changes things. And even more important to not let other people/other events get in-between how much we love each other.
My sister holds a very special place in my heart. Its something I’ve told her several times and its a position that she holds with a lot of pride. And so, I remind her again, ‘Patta, you always are and always will be my first baby’.