Warning : Mush Alert!!!
When the 'bundle' arrived at home, everyone seemed to be gushing. I - a mere 4 year old, was suspicious and curious. My mother laid down the bundle on my lap, asking me if I knew who this red-faced, sleeping blob was. I nodded, not knowing whether I could touch, or whether I was just supposed to 'look' - just like all the lovely china she had.
She told me to touch my sister - and I was instantly in love. In Kerala, we have special 'baby massage' women - those who lay the baby down on their legs and knees and then give them a bath. Looks weird, but is the safest way to bathe infants. We had "Dechchu Amma" - she was an expert - had bathed three generations of babies in our family. Before I knew it, she was home, laying my beautiful, fair baby doll on her dark, oily knees. I created mayhem - screamed at her, telling her not to touch my baby. And Dechchu would have all the fun in the world by saying "I'll touch her and make her as black as me!" I remember even complaining to my beautiful Grandmother why SHE should be bathing the baby.
As we grew older, we became friends, rivals, enemies, protectors and trusted guides. We went through phases in our lives where we felt the other one was getting all the unfair attention from our Mom. Dad managed to stay out of controversies by doing what every Dad is good at - splurging on both of us!
I remember her standing up to the 'Karnavar' (that's what we call the oldest male member - usually an Uncle - in the matrilineal society that Nambiars have. These guys make all the decisions!) much to the shock of all around - when she had to support me in one of the difficult situations I faced for a family ritual. She would lie, hide, coerce and rebel for me.
Today, she is a wonderful mother, beautiful wife and a fantastic professional, we are all proud of. And today is her birthday.
Seema, you have been one of the most precious gifts God has given me. My best friend and the only person I can be completely truthful to - because I know you love me unconditionally. Happy birthday, sister - and wishing you only the best of everything the world has to offer - coz' you deserve the best!