I have very select memories from the time I was around three years old and there are specifically two incidents that I still remember about the arrival of my younger sister. One is an image of my mother walking past a doorway with a heavy, protruding belly and my extreme excitement about my younger sibling’s arrival. The other is of rushing to greet my mother in the hospital room after the baby was born, where I, beaming with happiness, ate my favorite okra vegetable with her and the newborn by my side.
Siblings Day does not seem to have caught as much of manufacturers’ and advertisers’ attention as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day have. Ignoring the commercial aspect that usually accompanies them and considering only emotions, I feel that Siblings Day deserves equal importance. After all, we have to commemorate those epic moments of fighting like cats and dogs!
At a party a few months ago, a teenage son of a friend was narrating how he had succeeded in scaring his younger sister with a scary costume during Halloween.
“That’s so cool! Hahaha!”, was the remark that escaped me while two other girls who were also listening showed the opposite emotion with a sympathetic, “Oh no! Your poor sister!”
I thought about our reactions for a moment and said to them, “Do you see the difference? Both of you girls being the younger siblings in your respective families immediately empathized with his younger sister. I, on the other hand, being the elder sibling had the opposite response to the elder brother’s actions. I expressed joy because he succeeded in tormenting his younger sibling!”
Oh, the joy of teasing them with the silliest of things! When my sister was around two or three years old, while going somewhere by car, I would wait until we passed a prominent statue and then boast about how I had successfully seen the statue and taunt her that she had missed it completely. This would drive her wild. Then there was my usual sing-song voice and victory dance that would drive her up the wall if I got something right or managed to do something and she didn’t. I truly relished this devilish happiness. How I enjoyed those fists coming at me in boiling rage! It is not just the boys who get physical when quarreling. Both of us sisters not only engaged in such fights but enjoyed the action immensely. As we grew older, we would turn the large bed in our room into a fighting rink by pummeling and wrestling each other on it vigorously. It was so much fun!
Watching Jurassic Park when it had newly released way back in the nineties, my five-year-old sister had clung to my mother, trembling in her lap, scared stiff as the dinosaurs went on a rampage on screen. For a long time after, I extracted immense pleasure in torturing her with the idea that there were dinosaur eggs under her bed and swore that I had seen one of those mighty beasts outside by the window at night. During school years, when she was in a sour mood, tired, hungry and sleepy after a long day, with me sitting opposite her at the dinner table, I would be slyly waiting to catch her eye and do something like smile an evil taunting smile or make a face that had the potential to trigger an immediate outburst from her. Ultimately, all our arguments, name-calling, screaming, physical fighting, complaints and disciplining by parents only added up to cement the beautiful bond we share and now they provide fun memories during adulthood conversations.
It is difficult to note down in a small space all the glorious things about the relationship between us. I have known her since she was born and she has never known a life without me in it. We currently live on different continents with a strong, invisible rope tethering us together. If I do not get to speak to her for more than a few days, I start to feel uneasy. We talk about almost everything under the sun. A voracious reader, she shares her views on a topic that is very close to our hearts – books. She encourages me to pursue my passion for writing as I turn to her for precious feedback. I have often told people how mature she is for her age, how she is in reality my older sister despite being younger by three years. We swap tips on make-up, fashion and cooking. We talk about our jobs and daily routines. Current events, science, history, geography find their way into our conversations. We talk about our troubles or about things that make us burst into fits of laughter. In spite of living apart and missing each other more than words can say, we try to find a way to continue to open our hearts to each other.
Healthy sibling relationships make us better people. They teach us to be friends, to share, to be responsible, to co-exist and to love. They can influence the person we become and prepare us for other interactions in society. This article ‘How does birth order affect relationships?’ shows how they prepare us for relationships with our partners and spouses. Many of the wonderful, conflict-free interactions I have with my husband have been influenced by those with her. For example, if we disagreed on something and were annoyed with each other, my sister and I never got into the habit of not talking to each other. I find that the concept of giving someone the silent treatment is immature and egoistic and am glad that my sister and I never did it. In the end, I can say that my sister is not only related to me by blood but she is my best friend. She is the most precious gift my parents ever gave to me …
… as well as a chance to better appreciate the hilarious video below!