I remember that hot summer afternoon when I was finally taken to the hospital to get a glimpse of my much-awaited sibling. I had a baby sister and in my five-year-old mind what was of utmost importance was that now I had my very own playmate at home. My father and I waited outside the hospital room for a few minutes before we were ushered inside. I walked in and ran to my mother happily; even those 2 days without her seemed endless. My mother said, "Come meet your sister." I tiptoed and walked over to the cradle where I saw this red woozy ball with black hair and eyes closed. I bent down to touch her and as her eyes opened wide I saw the thick-fringed eyelashes and her shining black eyes looking back at me. I think it was at that moment I knew that I had found my best friend, my buddy, my lifelong partner in crime.
My sister and I have been a trial for my mother; we were a pair of monkeys and the stories of our escapades are part of the family folklore. Because my father was in the army, he was not around too often during our growing up years. Thus, my mother brought us up almost single-handedly and it must have taken real strength of mind to bring up such naughty and stubborn children who got out from one trouble only to get into another. My mother saw to every little thing, be it our school, to our meals, our clothes, down to the last tee. Though she was always very affectionate, sometimes we really tested her patience.
Bonu [my sister] and I weren't scholars either. On the contrary, we hated studying and Ma always told us that 'this is the only route to doing something worthwhile in life.' We were forced to spend time with our schoolbooks--out of the fear of Ma's scolding. I loved reading but when it came down to Math's or the Sciences I dreaded having anything to do with these subjects. I almost did not make it to 10th grade, a consequence of taking it too easy and I had to pay a heavy price for it. That entire summer Ma saw to it that I did my sums regularly and read my biology and physics from the very first chapter 'till the last. My sister was no better than me.
I left for college at 18 and Bonu was left home alone with my mother. She often complained, saying Ma was over-bearing and bossed over her. In my second year of college, while I was studying for my final exams, I got a phone call from Ma one evening saying my sister had failed her 9th grade exams. Ma was heartbroken. Nobody in our family had ever flunked before and my sister was so upset. My mother was an English teacher in a reputed school in the city and it was a let down for her, and, more than anything, it was humiliating. My sister did not speak to me that day, apparently she cried herself to sleep that night.
Thus started another tribulation for my Ma. She had always had to listen to outsider's complain about the both of us or people expressing their doubts on how Ma could let me go away to college in a far off city at the age of 18. There always seemed to be people who would come and talk about how well their children were doing while my mother would be having a tough time making sure we stayed on the right path. Ma was determined though that we would do well for ourselves and that's how she dealt with my sister's setback. She never let my sister feel that she had lost out on something and always told her: "Let this be a lesson. We are going to work really really hard. Even if the world seems to be coming to an end now...Circumstances will change." My mother and sister formed a team and they systematically got around to changing my sister's academic skills. Times did change, but very slowly and gradually, one little step at a time.
It has been a step at a time. I finished with law school last year and finally started working. My mother's belief in me paid off. It has been 4 years since that fateful day when I got that phone call. My sister is 18 now. In fact, I got another phone call a few days back. My sister's school- leaving results were coming out on the net. I was waiting for Ma and Bonu to call me that afternoon and couldn't pay much attention to my work in the office. The phone rang and as I picked it up apprehensively I heard Ma's sobbing in the background and my sister's anguished high pitched voice saying " Didi! I got an 88%!" I exclaimed " What?!" I could not believe my ears. She had passed the exam with flying colours and could now make it to the best of colleges in the country. My little sister, whom everybody had written off, had done amazingly well and could now go to the best of the educational institutions. My mother was in tears. She was overwhelmed as it took some time to sink in. Later at night while speaking to her I said "Ma, your two little failures didn't do as bad as everybody thought they would." Ma laughed and said "You are my daughters and I knew both of you the best. I always knew that you were never failures. It was just a matter of time."
Submitted by Anonymous