I was an only child. Quite content to be so. Those 6 odd years of my life were glorious, I think. Memories can be quite elusive at that age. And one day mom announced I was going to have a little sibling to play with. I was ok with it. Apparently, according to my school staff (who mentioned it at a recently held reunion), I was quite ecstatic and went and announced to all who were willing to listen, “Meri Mummy ko baby hone wala hai” (My mom’s gonna have a baby).
Now, we fast forward to the years when she could walk and talk. The nappy years were a little too messy. Baby had the biggest brown eyes you had ever seen. I taught her to make funny piggy faces. I’d cart her along to play and she’d follow me dutifully. She was my ‘personal walking and talking doll’. As I grew older (read rebellious), she was still the one with the halo around her head. I’d be the one to get us into trouble. I’d also be the one who’d tuck her behind me when we were reprimanded. Baby learnt the art of ‘water warfare’ early on in life. A trickle down her cheeks saved her every darn time. Me, I was made of sterner stuff. Bottom line, I was the black sheep and she was the innocent kitten in bad company.
We both were content in our respective roles. I was to shine bright and bring home the A pluses. She was to be the ideal, loving and obedient daughter. The only flip side is we were made to wear the exact same dresses for every function and festival. It was like, almost, as though mom thought we’d get lost in the melee. Identical outfits were a precaution. Anyway, life carried on smoothly till I hit the traumatic teens. I fell in ‘love’ and all hell broke loose. Mom made her the resident CIA agent to spy on me and the poor thing was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. We both grew up during that time.
Baby and I never fought. I was supposed to protect her remember? But one night, over something silly, we did. And we showed our displeasure by taking chances to switch off the fan and putting the other to discomfort. Never mind that the sweltering Bombay heat was killing both of us. Yes, we were like that only.
Over the years, we’d confide in each other in bits and pieces. I was never really sure if she was still the resident CIA agent. She, on the other hand knew my middle name was TROUBLE. Years passed, somehow, somewhere, the 7 odd years between us began diminishing. I’d be the one she’d look up to. She’d be the one I’d buy the first Christmas present for every year. I remember one year I saw this chocolate brown dachshund shaped bag. Santa got it for her that year even though she had to budget her spends for it. Years later, my entire first salary was to go to pick her a Casio keyboard that she wanted.