A sister reminisces…


It is late in the afternoon, and my mom and I are stretched out on the couch in our living room. My mother is visiting, and we use this time to catch up, sharing things that we miss out on, when we talk on the phone.

Our conversation meanders through the lanes and bylanes of our lives, and we find ourselves reminiscing about the past.

My mom walks further down memory lane, and smiles wistfully, as she fondly remembers her childhood, especially her three brothers, two older and one younger.

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She shares pages from that time in her life, when she was a young girl with long braids and colourful ribbons.

Her older brothers would come home from college or work, and call out to my mom to help park their bicycles inside the compound. This was one of the highlights of her day. From her height, the cycles appeared enormous, and she would step on one pedal and push the bicycles inside.

My mom recalls how she was tasked with the job of picking up a Tamil weekly magazine from the small shop at the end of their street. This magazine was eagerly awaited every week, and all the siblings devoured it with fervour. My mom knew that once the magazine went to her brothers, she would not get to read it for a couple of days at least. So, right after she picked up the magazine, she would sit in the verandah of her neighbour’s home, and quickly read her favourite sections, which included jokes and a short story series. And only then would she pass on the magazine to her brothers!

Later, when she joined the National Cadet Corps, and had to leave for training early every morning, the eldest of her brothers would buy a take away masala dosa for her to eat after training, just so that his sister would not be burdened with the task of carrying a lunch box. The masala dosa was usually packed in a banana leaf, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, which she could easily throw away.

My mom’s eyes mist over as she recalls this – a simple gesture from her brother to make his sister’s life easy.

The other brother, my mom recalls, would give her a crisp ten rupee note every morning, when she left for college. Come rain or shine, the money would always be there on his table, even if her brother was not in town.

When my maternal grandmother was pushing my mom to get married early, as was the norm in those days, my mom was strongly supported by her brothers in her desire to pursue her education in university.

As for the younger brother, who was much younger to my mom, he was her pet, and she fondly recalls how she carried him with her wherever she went, when he was a baby!

Both her older brothers are no more, and she closes her eyes, recalling their love and unconditional support.

For just a few moments there, my mom became a little girl in pigtails again, feeling secure, indulged and loved by this special love that brothers and sisters share.

We Indians celebrate this deep and special bond today, where the sister ties a rakhi on her brother’s wrist, and he in turn promises to love and protect her.

Metamorphosis


A baby is born. The baby starts tracking moving objects with her eyes. The mom takes her to the park; the baby’s eyes follow a fluttering butterfly. She points out and babbles.

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The baby becomes a toddler. She plays in the park with her mom. She runs and chases a pretty yellow butterfly, flitting about like a butterfly herself, secure and comfortable, knowing that her mom is around. She comes back to share a giggle, or to take a biscuit from her mom.

Soon the toddler is in school, learning to hold a pencil, and learning how to draw a beautiful butterfly; learning to colour it with her imagination, adding eyes and a smile, and taking it home, where it is proudly displayed on the refrigerator.

The child grows older, and learns about the life cycle of a butterfly. The child learns about transformation, and learns to label parts, and is awed by science, and shares her learnings with her family.

The child transforms into a teenager, trying to find her own unique identity, while also trying to fit in with her clique of friends. She sees the butterfly as a tattoo, as an expression of who she is – colourful, independent and vibrant.

The teenager grows into a young woman, who seeks love, and sees romance and magic in the beautiful butterflies in the park, as she and her spouse take a leisurely stroll.

The young woman becomes a mother, and points out colourful butterflies to her little son. Butterflies have now become school projects, and she sees them in craft paper, and tubes of paint.

The young mother is now the mom of teenagers. She has more time, and takes up painting. She paints colourful flowers and butterflies.

Her children move on to university, to their own careers and independent lives, to marriage and kids.

She is now a grandmother, baking butterfly shaped cookies for her grandchildren, and pointing out butterflies to them in her beautiful garden.

She is old, and frail now. Her grandchildren are older, and take her for walks in the park. She looks at the butterflies with her feeble eyesight.

She marvels at creation, and at this beautiful metamorphosis that is inevitable.