Having a younger sister has its perks. You can place the blame on the little kid for your preteen mischiefs, and use her as a pretext to buy more ice cream. But the real trouble starts when your adorable little sister suddenly turns into an annoying brat that wants every single thing you want. Just because you want it.
It started out with a new pack of crayons. At least, that’s the first incident I remember. We already had crayons and color pencils at home that I used to sketch my favorite sketch everywhere- that of two mountains, sun in between, a river and a house(being the absolute dunce at anything artistic, I found out after many years of redrawings, recoloring and improvisation that this was every person’s favorite childhood sketch)- and my sister used to scribble on the skirting of the walls, because she wasn’t allowed to scribble on the walls as she found out the hard way that crayons cannot be erased unlike pencil art.
My art class required me to buy more colors. I usually would use this class to build my interpersonal relationships and engage my mother’s superior creative side by making her do the homework, but this time I was thrilled because I knew exactly what I wanted. I do not remember the brand of the crayons, but it was a rectangular, green box with a beautiful scenery painted on it, and the white body holding the colors that would slide out. That mechanism! In retrospect, I was more fascinated by the way each crayon fit in the box and stayed in position by the movable separator flaps than the crayons themselves. Our teacher had specifically asked us to get this particular pack. I was promised a new pack by my father the next day. I was jumping up and down with excitement when appa got home with the crayons. Oh, the beauty! After admiring it for many minutes, I decided to carefully resiste the urge to use them so that I can take them shiny and new to the class next week.
My sister flounced into the room, curious.
“Akka, what is that?”
“It’s a box of crayons, Sharan. It’s pretty, isn’t it?”
Then she said it. Those three words that proved to be the biggest harbinger of fights, screamings and thrashings for many years to come.
“I want it.”
“No!” I was still busy, turning over the box and reading every inch of manufacturing detail eagerly.
Out came a sudden, loud wail, accompanied by
crocodile tears real tears(she clarifies that she used to genuinely cry because she wanted things), and a loud “Ammmaaaaa!“.
I don’t remember how that fight ended, but it did; presumably because our mother might have threatened us both with no dinner.
But my sister had suddenly realized that she was an individual and had the ability to want things.
That’s when my seven year old life became hell. She wanted my clothes. She wanted the plate that I ate out of. She wanted my bed. She also wanted all my notebooks and waterbottles and the ribbons that went on my hair. That’s also when we started fighting everyday.
Our last childish fight was when she suddenly wanted my pretty, pink frock which I had had for a year. She wanted it right then. While I was wearing it. We shouted at each other for an entire hour till the neighbors came to politely explain to us that her son was preparing for a very big exam and we should be good girls and not disturb him.
Our first serious fight was two years later, when she wanted the very expensive Rs.5 spiral shaped ring that I was finally allowed to buy. It was the newest thing. She came barging in while I was showing the ring off to a guest and her daughter and demanded for the ring. I refused. She grabbed at my hand and tried to wrench it out of my finger. I was mortified at the unexpected physical attack, and was in pain. There were guests in the house, I was embarrassed. But this ring was very precious to me. All the cool girls in my school were wearing them, and I finally felt like one of them. I could not let go. I whacked her on the head with a notebook and she pulled my skirt down. We fought for three days.
She had still humiliated me in front of strangers, I had to fix that. So I cleverly engineered a phone call from my friend and talked loudly on the phone about how much I enjoyed Matilda, that I had just finished reading.
Predictably, she demanded, “Akka! Tell me the story! “.
I refused and asked her to read it herself. She was four and a half and understood nothing.
I waited for her to pester me for a while, and then said with a superior air, “Ok, the story is that there is a little girl who develops magical powers. She helps her teacher get back her stuff.”
Magical powers! It set her imagination wild.
“Tell me more!”
“That’s all there is.”
“The story has only two lines?”
She waddled off and got the book, “Look! Look at this page, it has so many lines. Look at that page, it has at least ten lines. See, this line talks about Matilda’s principal.”
“You can read that, right? So why don’t you just read the whole book?”
And with that, I instigated her into locking me inside my room while our parents were out the whole day. I cried and shouted for six hours, but no avail.
When I was let out, I pounced on her. It ended with her torn clothes and my torn homework. That’s was our first physical fight.
A couple of years later, my sister got a little smarter and used her social manipulative skills, rather than practiced bawling, to get her way. She understood how partial our grandmother was to her. There was a rule put in place by our grandmother when it came to both of us wanting something: “Akka will get two because she is older and you will get one“. This quickly reversed itself one day after my sister came up with the brilliant line, “But I am younger, you loved her longer. Now I need more love as compensation.” , and the young monster would flash her devilish smile at me, relishing her extra rasagollas and pretty much extra everything else for three years.
When she turned nine, she could comprehend the devious tactic of extracting revenge.
I was fifteen at the time, and had a mega huge crush on Nick Carter, as most closeted gay boys did. (I was not a closeted gay boy.) There was super cute poster of Backstreet Boys on my wall that I adored. She knew this. The house had also just gotten its first desktop, and I was allowed to spend evenings playing Chip’s Challenge while my sister would sit beside me and watch. She didn’t know how to play it and when it was her turn to sit on the computer, would randomly press maniacally on keys that made our mother a little neurotic.
One evening, after being forbidden from bouncing tennis balls off the walls, she decided it would be super fun to throw the mouse ball at the walls instead. The fact that it bounced off the wall and hit her on the face every time didn’t seem to deter her. My asking her to stop resulted in the ball being thrown at my face. I promptly complained to amma and she was punished. She was asked to either stand on a piece of tile and not move out of the square for as long as possible, or apologize to me. She adamantly chose the former. I watched over her and decided to annoy her by turning off the light. She, being the scaredy cat she is, shouted loudly in the dark and ran into the wall and hit her head. She decided with new vigor that she had to get back at me for this incident.
The little devil plotted her vengeance all night. When I was in school the next day, she went straight for Nick’s pretty face. When I came back home, Nick Carter looked like he had toothpaste foam all over his mouth. She had heavily scratched on his face with a pen.
I had never felt rage like that before. I marched to her, shouting, and whipped her with a towel. She retaliated. We fought, and fought. And fought. We skipped dinner and fought. We fought for two days. After incessant screaming matches and hair tugging, further torn clothes and shampoo dripping down our faces, it was decided that we would sleep in the same room. It was also the longest time I went without speaking to her- two months. That’s also when we stopped physically hitting each other because she had grown too strong for me.
Soon, I moved out to study and both of us grew up- or so I like to believe. But I always had things she wanted. Or she always wanted things I had. Now, I have come to realize that our choices are so similar that both these things effectively mean the same. We have maturely switched over from wanting each others’ clothes to sharing them, keeping them for months or a year or two at a time and switching, like adults. Many material objects have tested our bonds of understanding, but we’ve been strong and careful. She’s also learnt the art of compromise.
“Akka, I want the Danbo. You leave this with me and get a new one.”
Blast from the past.
“No Sharan, you cannot have it, sorry! It’s a gift. ”
What could have been a Seldon Crisis, however, was deftly averted by her own creativity, when she decided the best retort to my refusal was actually making her own Danbo, much to my hesitant chagrin and reluctant pride.