I thought of writing a poem first, but then I realized that I cannot describe in so concise a form what my sister means to me.
To begin from the beginning, my sister was born when I was in my 2nd standard. I remember going to Stetford hospital in Avadi (I’m not too sure about the spelling of the hospital’s name 😀 )… seeing her as a baby.. I remember seeing her in her cradle.. I remember rocking her to sleep.. It’s a common “tradition” that new-born babies utter the word “amma” (mother) as their first word. Well, the general consensus within my family is that Ammu (my sister) uttered “anna” (brother) as her first word. I don’t know if I should feel proud about it, but I do – a lot. I remember that she used to cry too much. (Thankfully, she doesn’t do that now ) My grandparents and parents asked me what to name her. She used to wear a monkey cap when she was a baby to keep out the cold since she was born in December, and I playfully replied that we should call her “Gullabi” (Gulla – monkey cap). My grandmother even used that name in the prayer requests that she made to various organizations for Ammu. I remember seeing birthday cards addressed to her as “Naveena Gullabi” from prayer groups…. ha ha ha..
I also remember the time my father and I pored over a lot of books to decide a name for her. We finally settled on the name Cynthia – a Shakespearean name which means “the moon”. Today, she is my sun, my moon and everything else under the sky to me. Sadly, there is no single word to describe all this, and I guess that “Cynthia” will have to do. However, I don’t remember how we settled upon the name “Ammu” to use within the family. No memorable story there, I guess.
I remember going on my mother’s college tours with her. I remember a particular photo where she had curd rice all over her mouth and was smiling cutely. I guess she must have been 2 or 3 years old when that happened. I remember hitting her with a cork cricket ball when she started going to school and I was playing with the ball within our house. I also remember that she ran away crying to complain about me to the housemaid first, and later, to our parents. We used to fight a lot back then. I used to get some boneless chicken from a shop near our house. A plate used to cost around Rs. 15, and my mother used to give money to buy two plates – one for her and one for me. I did some pretty ugly stuff back then – I used to eat a few pieces in the shop from one plate and give her the pack with less number of pieces. She used to suspect that something was up, but I was able to convince her and our mother that everything was alright. I feel ashamed about it now, but there is nothing I can do to change the past. I don’t remember when we started getting close, when we stood up for each other, but I am glad that it happened at some point of time and it keeps on happening even now.
She gives me greeting cards every year for my birthday and for any other special occasion. I must confess that I have lost quite a few, but still treasure the ones that I have not lost. She takes the time to write beautiful poems and verses on these greeting cards. Sadly, I don’t think I do a good job of returning the favour. But, I guess, what matters is what you feel more than what you do.. 😉 (I know it’s a lame excuse, but I don’t have a better one). She has been there with me through my lows, and trust me, my lows are pretty low, damn low, lower than the worst that you can imagine. She has been with me when I made certain decisions in my life, and in spite of her young years, has played a major part in all the good decisions that I have made – the bad ones, I claim sole responsibility for them.
Today, at the time of the writing of this post, she is all grown up and has entered her first year in college. I think that her height is almost equal to that of my shoulders. My parents and I tease her that it’s going to be tough to get a bridegroom for her if she grows too tall!! ha ha ha.. But she has still been the same Ammu to me.. a bit more mature.. a bit more serious.. a bit more playful as well.. I don’t know how to describe her, but I like her the way she is and I hope she stays that way…
I hope this continues on and I have her as my never-ending source of love, affection and guidance. I have not been a great, not even good brother to her, but she has been a great sister to me. And I hope that one day I will be able to repay her for all that she has done for me!! That’s all I ask for!!!