Bonding between two sisters does not happen gradually. It is not innate. It is not necessary to like your sibling and I didn’t, for a long time. She was a different person who was very admirable, even in the midst of all her mistakes. Most of my family preferred her over me for almost everything; she was the beautiful one among both and her shy and quiet demeanour was appealing to many; although why, I have no idea. She often shared her secrets with me, whether I cared or not, but for me, sharing was always hard. Eventually, I learned to open up to her, even if it was just a sliver. I could never open up more and I could never see her as a friend. She was an idol and a second mother to me; still is, but as I got closer to her, I began to see how human she really was.
The seven-year old gap between us bridged and we both met halfway over long, late-night talk.
During my tenth standard, I began studying seriously sometime in December. The nights were cold and long and I studied through them. Before going to bed, I put up a Post-It on the fridge asking my dad specifically not to wake me up before a certain time. It was always better to stay up late than get up early. “If you have to get up early, you’ll go to bed thinking that and not sleep at all,” my sister says, translating my thoughts like the superpower that she has, only to help me —or it could be sister telepathy; much stronger than twin telepathy — “But, if you were to stay up late to study, you’d be thinking, ‘Yes! I can go to bed after this!’ and there is no better motivation than that.” This logic has never convinced my parents.
It was on one of these nights that I truly saw her as my sister.
She used to stay up with me on weekend nights to keep me company. She was doing her degree at the time and spent the night up with me doing her assignments. She did not like her friends there. She told me about them and how she hated them, even. She gave me her English textbook to read and on one night, we discussed the stories in the book. Another night, we discussed the Backstreet Boys, the only other thing in common between us, beside our parents. We watched all the videos of the Backstreet Boys one afternoon. I would ask her a question, and then a discussion would break out. We agreed upon how the songs of singers who write their own songs (*cough* Taylor Swift *cough*) sound the same after a while. We talked about how stupid One Direction is and how they can never grow up to become someone like the Backstreet Boys. There were disagreements, but we accepted each other’s views and made our points clear. I spoke to her about school, about how people were keeping their distance from me and how much it hurt. She said, “I’m here for you, even if no one is.”
After tenth standard, I only stayed up late studying for my first PU finals and whole year during my second PU. During my first PU, she spoke to me about her first boyfriend in MBA College and about her awesome friends. I hated listening to her that time because I had the crappiest people as friends at the crappiest college ever. When she spoke about her college, I became rude and lashed out at her. She stopped staying up with me.
Then, sometime during her second year of MBA and my second year of PU, she broke up with that guy. It was heartbreaking to watch her. I let her in then. I listened to her, day and night; I listened to her cry and talk about how her friends weren’t supportive of their relationship at all; I let her cry every time she listened to a Backstreet Boy song; I let her take her time in the bathroom to cry; I let her cry as much as she wanted and often covered up for her when our parents questioned her puffy eyes and sleeplessness.
Somehow, we got stronger together in the midst of all the heartbreak and fights, insults, advices and inferiorities. We worked harder, unconsciously, at getting stronger together.
Since then, it has been quite some time since we had our little late night talk. More than two years, actually. When I joined college, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I gloated to her about it. I prided over how amazing my English classes were and chided her about how she didn’t study in a college like mine. This often resulted in heated arguments which would turn out to be a memory testing challenge—who did what, who said what, when—and I would back out because I’ve had enough of memory tests all my life and I know it isn’t reliable. That was her weapon. I, weaponless, gave up and took counseling in college on anger management.
And then she got a job. History repeated itself, and I started feeling left out all over again. I couldn’t stand the sight of her because she radiated negativity for ten months. For me, it seemed like she was a dementor all those months, sucking the life and happiness around everyone and everything that she passed by. But I wasn’t deterred like the last time because I actually had things to do. I wrote, I made art —not good ones; just for my happiness—I watched movies and I read. I found a way to keep myself happy and cheerful and calm.
For a while, she was looking for a job elsewhere and was home for a few weeks. During this time, we had our late night talk sessions, a few weeks ago and I told her about this little obsession that I had: observing people’s hands. The way people use their hands when they talk, the way their hands are structured, the way their hands relate to their personality or physique or a hobby or what they do most with their hands. All of it. I also gave her a couple of examples. I told her how my best friend’s fingers were thin and long, and how she was a really good artist. I showed her my own hand, how it was small and clumpy and thick and held a pen in it. I showed her her own fingers; how they were small and delicate like her. I told her about a professor’s hands, two of them, in fact, and how their hands were as pudgy as them.
She told me how people, in general, only look for those things that they don’t have. In my case, hands. In her case, she looks at other girls’ hair and believes that they always have nicer hair than her. When she’s smart like this, it is so much easier to be around her.
And I thought about it. The more I thought, the more I believed she was right. I looked at people’s hands as intently as they looked at mine. The only difference was that theirs were normal.