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Big sister as mother is not an uncommon story. A lovely ode to the bond of sisterhood, one of the strongest ones there is.
Editor’s Note: On this Mother’s Day, we asked our contributors to share stories of women who have mothered them, beyond their mothers. This is one of the beautiful stories we received. While we love our moms, this is our way of acknowledging that it takes a village to raise a child, and many of us have been lucky to be mothered by others too.
She would burst into tears when I howled as a little baby, so I am told. But having seen her cry whenever I have fought with her, I trust those stories completely.
This woman who mothered me was all of three years old when I snatched away the position of the youngest child in the family from her. My sister, has been the one who always looked out for me and still does even though we have children of our own now.
She is definitely to be blamed for the outspoken rebel that I have grown into, for I grew up seeing her fight till the very end. It is because of her that I have believed that I can dance and sing, though I feel that my baby sleeps whenever I sing a lullaby to him out of sheer desperation to end the torture.
She is also to be credited for passing on the habit of eating chalk and raw rice; something which I still occasionally do.
As a young child, I hated going to the school so much so that I would cry as soon as we reached the school gate. I would hold on to her skirt and a tug-o-war would ensue between me and the peons who would try hard to pull me off her. I on my part would use all the strength I had in my tiny bones, till they finally did us apart.
She was the sense of home for me, a sense of family amidst strangers and I would do anything to remain with her for as long as possible. Sometimes I would sneak into her class and sit with her, winning over her teachers with an innocent smile and so they would let me be. But then there were some who would hear none of it and send me right back where I belonged. Needless to say my sister faced the brunt all along. But never did she sent me away.
Once we went on a school picnic and I came back home with a friend without telling her. She came hours later, exhausted and crying, as she had been searching for me all over the place and thought that somebody had kidnapped me. While I had been happily eating oranges on our terrace ignorant of the grave mistake I had committed. I still remember the look in her eyes when she saw me standing on the terrace and happily waving at her. If looks could kill, I would not be alive to tell this story today.
Well, these are stories that I am sure would be passed on to our kids as part of a family heirloom.
It was only after she left school and I was left to fend for myself that I realized how protected I had been. I could pick a fight with anyone, go to school without the required stationery, be let off by teachers, speak to seniors without hesitation because I had her to fall back on.
Growing up days are critical as they build our sense of identity and it becomes even more important to have someone to look up to. Skinny kids with braces on their teeth have their chances of survival in a competitive school environment upped just because they have sisters like mine, who are firmly standing behind them, shooing away anyone who poses a threat.
And now that I am all grown up and independent, it is her that I turn to when I feel lost and seek familiarity when overwhelmed with the unknown.
Aren’t elder sisters second mothers to their siblings? Well, mine certainly was.
Two girls image via Shutterstock
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I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
Every daughter, no matter how old, yearns to come home to her parents' place - ‘Home’ to us is where we were brought up with great care till marriage served us an eviction notice.
Every year Dugga comes home with her children and stays with her parents for ten days. These ten days are filled with fun and festivity. On the tenth day, everyone gathers to feed her sweets and bids her a teary-eyed adieu. ‘Dugga’ is no one but our Goddess Durga whose annual trip to Earth is scheduled in Autumn. She might be a Goddess to all. But to us, she is the next-door girl who returns home to stay with her parents.
When I was a child, I would cry on the day of Dashami (immersion) and ask Ma, “Why can’t she come again?” My mother would always smile back.
I mouthed the same dialogue as a 23-year-old, who was home for Durga Puja. This time, my mother graced me with a reply. “Durga is fortunate to come home at least once. But many have never been home after marriage.”
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