I thought twice before participating in the #SiblingStories #SiblingTalk blog train.
When Ila Varma, who is hosting this blog train announced it, I simply commented “all the best”. I would have left it at that.
I am an only child. No siblings. What sibling stories would I tell? (To know more about me visit my “about me” page)
Then it occurred to me that I do have sibling stories to tell. So what if they are not my own?
#SiblingStories #SiblingTalk is a blogging train hosted by Ila Varma in collaboration with the Brand Ang Tatva. The train started on 7 October 2018 and will run till 9 Nov 2018. Follow Ila on Twitter & Instagram.Thirty-four enthusiastic bloggers make up the blog train for #SiblingTalk as they reminisce about their cherished memories-sweet and sour-with their siblings. Please visit varmaila.com to see all the posts in this blog train.
I grew up with my grandmother in a large joint family. My mom had seven siblings. Only one, my uncle, is still alive and that thought makes me very sad. While I have many friends who have siblings, I have to say that the love and unity I’ve seen between my Mom, her sisters and brothers has been the most inspiring. Sure they fought, disagreed, didn’t talk to each other and often disapproved of one another. I’ve seen my uncles practically come to blows, fighting. But if someone intervened, instantly they would become the outside and my uncles would be united!
I remember how my uncles would fight over who would read a new book that came home, and finally, whoever won would secretly hand it over to my mom to read!
If one of them had even a minor problem, the others would drop everything and come running. They were truly supportive of one another. Never kept score about who did what first. Even when they were scattered across the country to locations where their jobs had taken them, they made it a point to attend every family function regardless of how far they were located.
And the fun they had when they met, recalling their childhood experiences was a joy for the rest of us. Of course I have lots of cousins. But what we have is nothing close to what my mom and her siblings had.
They would recall incidents and tease one another.
Do you still cry when you wash your hair and shikakai goes into your eyes?
Remember how you used to eat the curry even as it was cooking in the pan?
I bet you blew a load of cash on buying everyone gifts
Do you remember that Bore Mama who used to come home?
How lovely it was when Raju Chithi visited us..
It was “remember that time when…” all the time!
And on and on it would go, the conversations ringing with peals of laughter as if they were back to those days when they were still kids. The brothers would go buy flowers and all the favorite things their sisters liked. The sisters would braid one another’s hair and decorate it with flowers. They would cook their favorite foods. They would bring each other gifts.
Just thinking of all that is enough to take me to my happy place. And in the midst of all this, these siblings would celebrate their nieces and nephews, because, after all, were they not an extension of themselves?
When one uncle had to be admitted in hospital, another rushed over with his wife, to look after him, taking his kids under their wing. When one sibling needed money, the other generously gave it, not loaned it. When one of my aunts with a large family was struggling financially, the others found some excuse to visit her and give her gifts to tide her through. They thought nothing of taking care of one another’s bills or other financial commitments. Cheerfully!
What’s really interesting is how different they all were from one another. A set of diverse individuals bonded by blood.
Most of all, I know them as kind and generous people, not just within their families, but with others, too.
I can’t say I’ve never wished for a brother or sister. I admit I’ve felt a bit envious of my Mom for her large family.
Growing up, I did have friends who regarded me as a sister and I have also tied the odd rakhi to a couple of bro-friends. But it comes nowhere close to actually living with a sibling.
If a sister is one’s best friend, then I have two close friends who are my sisters from another mother.
My best friend, who lives in Canada, is no less than a sister to me. We’ve known each other almost all our lives.
We went to the same school and college.
Have lived in the same neighborhood.
Have bunked class together.
Have drooled over guys together.
Have gotten drunk together.
Have consoled one another over our perceived “tragedies”.
Have lied for each other.
Have fought like cat and dog. Still do!
Are like chalk and cheese.
Yet, we have a close bond and would give our lives for each other and always have each other’s back. We can tell each other anything without the other being judgmental. Sure she sometimes forgets my birthday, but those memories are precious now.
I remember, in 1987, we moved back to Hyderabad after being away for six years. We were both 24 and of course, living in the same city meant being inseparable again. So on 28 July, there’s a knock on the door at 7am Wondering who it might be, my Mom opened the door to find my friend standing there with a huge tray with a massive cake. As soon as she spotted me, she sang happy birthday to me and barged in, setting the cake down on the table. I was naturally surprised because my birthday is on 27 Sept.
But I played along, of course, because that is what sisters do. After lounging around and with two mugs of coffee in us, my Mom asked her why the cake, today. What followed was a long argument, with her insisting today was my birthday. Only she would argue with my Mom about the correct date of MY birthday! If you are wondering what we did with the cake–haha–of course we enjoying it! And if you are wondering if she baked me another on 27 Sept, yes she did. And got me more gifts!
We’d help ourselves to each other’s wardrobe and fight over who would wear a new outfit first–luckily we were the same size, although she is taller. We practically lived in each other’s houses, much to the amusement of our families.
When she decided to join an aerobics class, she forced me to enroll with her for the company and of course, transportation to get there. We’d go at 6 in the morning. Some days, she’d refuse to get out of bed and insist that I hang around so we could just stay in and gossip.
Maybe the geographical distance separates us, but we have marathon conversations on the phone. So grateful for technology–and whatsapp. And we’re so fortunate our husbands and kids get along so well!
In 2011, I gained another sister. The day we met, we knew we were soul sisters! Vanita and I adopted each other and have literally been in each other’s hair since. She’s one of the most wonderful human beings I know and I often think of her as my Mother’s voice. Wise beyond her years, she knows exactly the right thing to say when I am upset. She is also very good at giving me a kick when I need it the most without mincing words.
Having known her for years now, I can’t help thinking that this is what it is like having a sister. Although we haven’t met yet, there’s nothing we don’t know about each other. She’s my sister from another mother. Oh yes, we fight, argue, scold–but in the middle of it all, if either has something to share or talk about, our priority is to support each other. My fondest wish is that we will meet soon. I almost did when I visited Canada in 2013, but our itinerary was too tight to fit in a trip to the US.
By the way, Vanita is a tech whiz and excellent coach. She’s the sort who will teach you to fish. You know how the saying goes: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” She coaxed me to move to self-hosted WordPress back in 2012 and took care of everything for me. She still does. I just go whining to her when I have a problem and her response is “no worries” and she tackles it for me. She tells me I am wonderful and of course, I believe her. Because I secretly think she’s the best. And I love that her kids email me!
Hmm. I could go on and on.
People say blood is thicker than water.
I see families where siblings are too busy to spend time together–or won’t talk to each other because of some differences, often minor. They let their ego waste precious moments.
Maybe I wished I had siblings. But here is the thing. I now know that friends are the family we choose for ourselves. On that basis, I am blessed to have plenty of “siblings”.
Thanks to Prerna Wahi for pulling me on to the blog train with her post Sister Love – Sugar And Spice
Please head over to Ghazala’s blog to read her #SiblingStories
To read all the posts on the Sibling Stories blog train, visit this link