Indian culture dictates that the bond between siblings remains weak in the web of other familial ties and obligations that an individual must uphold. My sister and I, geographically separated from our motherland, break this tradition.
The conception of my sister was a random occurrence, completely unplanned; she’s what you might call a “mistake.” My mother was devastated to give birth to a second child, nine years after her first. 19 inches, 6.8 pounds: [Redacted] entered the world as an insignificant weakling. This teeny child, appearing suddenly in my life, became my only hero.
The word “hero” immediately strikes images of soldiers, of philanthropists, of mothers and of fathers, anyone who has experienced life with all of its ups and downs. I have honored many of these traditional “heroes” myself, from Warren Buffet to my beloved grandfather, yet none of them quite capture the qualities that I believe to be most significant. My sister, still the smallest person in her third grade class at 46 inches, 41 pounds, exemplifies these characteristics.
Every day when I come home, [Redacted] is bounding with energy. She greets me with a cheery smile and proceeds to explain her day at school. First comes Science, then Math, English, and lastly, a small complaint about Social Studies. By then, she’s leading me to her backpack and telling me about her homework. Wasting no time, she sits down at her desk, looking insignificant in the large chair, slowly working through the assignments for the night. This dedication is transferred to everything she does, from gymnastics to the piano. Somehow, even with her frail physique, my sister finds the energy to remain enthusiastic about everything.These qualities are the very ones I attempt to emulate throughout my life: passion, dedication and a pursuit of knowledge.
Occasionally, [Redacted] tries to convince me that I am both her role model and her mentor. I disagree.All that I can do is take care of her as I would my own child. I bathe her, I cook for her, I tutor her, I play with her, and I discipline her. Even when my mother returns home, my sister comes to me. She calls me “Ma” (mother) and I call her “Beta” (daughter). At night, when lightning strikes, [Redacted] always comes crying into my room. Pulling her into bed with me, I hold her tightly and tell her stories until she falls asleep. Even in these moments, I learn from her; I learn responsibility. I cannot say that I have fulfilled the role of a parent, but in my heart, my sister is my first child.
Sometimes I look back at our relationship and I smile at my luck. My hero, my sister and my “daughter” all come in one little package named [Redacted]. As our bond continues to strengthen each day, we become more of an anomaly from Indian custom. Residing in America has allowed us to forge a relationship that will persist even through life’s most rigorous trials.