The clock was about to announce the arrival of midnight. It was going to be a long day sprinkled with the twinkle of laughter and the magic of love.
“You’ve changed, you know!” T looked up at her with complaining eyes.
“How so, Munchkin?”
“You’re just not the same anymore, A. You’ve become..serious. That’s not how you were back in school. You were talkative and fun and you’d spend time with me.”
“And now you’re always into books. You don’t talk as much. You’ve become…boring.”
“What awww? I’m serious. I really miss the old you.” The sadness in her voice did not go unnoticed.
“Look here, Munchkin. You’re my little baby, my only sister. And don’t you dare think I’ve been ignoring you on purpose. Sometimes, life just happens, you know? You grow up. You see things for what they are. You discover yourself. You see the difference between what you wish to be and what you are.”
“And where do I fit in?”
“You belong here, I belong here. I guess I just grew up in ways neither of us had anticipated – new school, new friends. It’s not really easy to trust people, you know. I missed my old friends – all those plans we had made, the dreams we had dreamt, the clowns we were going to be, the philosophers we wished to be, the lives we wanted to live together. And then suddenly I found myself in a familiar foreign land among friendly strangers who would soon transcend into stars dotting my life. And then there was the academic transition that tends to overwhelm even the greatest of minds.”
“And I wasn’t really there for you then, was I?” she whispered.
“Hahaha. You’re my baby, Munchkin. What matters is that I am there for YOU. I’ve tried to play the elder sister as sincerely and as responsibly as I can.”
A looked up towards the clock. There were still ten minutes to go.
“Is it not difficult to communicate with yourself sometimes, T? Is it not difficult to enunciate what the heart is feeling, what the mind is rationalizing?
It is even more difficult to seek peace by strangling your emotions and locking them away in a deserted corner of your heart. It is important to speak. It is important to be honest – with yourself, at least, if not with anyone else.
Sometimes, our mind spins up a path that is too difficult to keep track of. Don’t let that consume you. It makes a weird, an almost erratic carving on your personality – one that you are unable to handle because you are afraid of facing the truth. But the truth is this : the sooner, the better. The sooner you face your devils, the better it is. There is nothing more repulsive and degrading than deceiving yourself, because that way, not only are you adding your name to the long list of cowards, but you are also wrecking your life, and that of those around you.
Release yourself from the shackles that you once very gladly took up – whether they are the social incarcerations, or your own self-righteousness. It is an inferno, if nothing else. It is a form of abuse that you don’t have to put up with. No abuse is worth putting up with, T.” A spoke slowly, poring the potion that she thought was so necessary.
“You’ve become wise, A!” There was admiration in her voice.
“Whoever said the good things in life come easy? Being strong is hard. It never was easy. But there is pride in strength. Not arrogance, but pride.. Strength is like the bitter pill that cures you. It rids you of all your fears, your insecurities. It liberates you. You know you are going to falter. You may be practical, you may be emotional. Or you may be a bitter sweet combination of both. Your faith in those you trust will suffer. You will have agonizing phases of self doubt. You will question your own dogma. But. You still have to be strong. You may break in the process. But the damage is reversible. You may be stubborn, and you need to use that stubbornness to coerce you to befriend strength. You may have an ego. But you know how to love and how to care. And that will help you pick yourself up. That will make you stronger than ever. That will make you capable of braving any tempest. That will arm you with an experience that will be your eternal North star. If that means stimulating your tear glands, let it be so. Anything that makes you feel better, that gifts you wings and the power to soar, is totally worth it.”
“Someone has grown up..” she teased.
“Respect the way others think, even if it is completely different from yours. Respect the way others think because it is their carte blanche to have views and opinions . Just like it is yours.
There is the type of respect you have for all people, for humanity..because they are humans. And respect for humanity, irrespective of the sins they may have committed, is a lifetime lesson. After all, who are we to judge the actions of others when we ourselves are no angels?
Then there is the sort of respect that is earned. You earn the respect of others through your admirable selflessness, your angelic generosity, your unconditional love, your selfless devotion to those you love. That is how we win respect. And hearts.
Then there are those we respect because of how they deal with their flaws, how they try to rid themselves of their flaws. And that is the superlative degree of all forms of respect, because they not only give out the best in them to the world, but also ensure that their flaws don’t ruin the lives around them. And that is the sort of respect you should aim for.”
“And you have, A. You have.”
“I really, really hope so. Admirable respect over easy acceptance, no?”
“People grow in different ways, at different rates. Expecting them to keep pace with you is very naïve. Give yourself time. Enjoy your growth. Be patient with yourself, and with those around you. Bumps in the road are not uncommon. In fact, they ensure a smooth future ride. They cement relationships. They test your commitment.They test your relationships.”
“And what if we fall down? What if it’s scary?”
“Then think about the sunset. It is so beautiful. But it is the sunset; it marks the end of another day. But it is beautiful, nevertheless. Ever wondered why? Because it also fuels our longing for another day of hope, love and being with the ones we love.
Give yourself a second chance.People change, and with them, their priorities. What you were a year ago, you may not be the same person now. Try out new things. Try out what you already have experimented with, but with a better approach. That is living.
Human beings are complex, and some human beings are far more complex than the rest. Having a heart and a mind that is irrevocably intertwined can be both a blessing and a curse. Channel it to your advantage. Set your own sail. Be your own saviour. Don’t wait for someone else to rescue you. Seeking help is not wrong. Dependency is. Recognize the difference between them.
Understand the unspoken. Appreciate the spoken. Discern what you deserve. Cherish what you have.
Stop for a minute. Think. Why are you breathing? Why are you alive? We are all here for a purpose. Some of us discover it, and live it. Yes, they live it. Some of us spend our entire lives trying to solve this puzzle, and in the process, miss out on the little joys that add to the beauty of life, and fail to see who and what is important to us. You don’t want to be that person.
Take pride in the fact that you are strong, that you know yourself. Take pride in the fact that you are you. Take pride in the fact that you are surrounded by people who understand you, who love you, who appreciate you. That is one of the greatest blessings you have been endowed with.” A’s voice was barely above a whisper now.
The clock struck – singing the song of joy, marking the beginning of another new year, caressing the innocence of days gone by.
The two sisters embraced each other with a strength that had bonded their hearts since eternity, with a love that had been flowing through their veins since their first breath. It was a bond so strong that the angels sang with joy and God was proud and the past was smiling and the present was praying and the future was celebrating.
“Happy birthday, T! May God be with you always.”
And in between heartbreaking nostalgia and unconditional love, A sang, “Barney is a dinosaur from our imagination / And when he’s tall / He’s what we call a dinosaur sensation / Barney’s friends are big and small / They come from lots of places / After school they meet to play / And sing with happy faces / Barney shows us lots of things / Like how to play pretend / ABC’s, and 123’s / And how to be a friend / Barney comes to play with us / Whenever we may need him / Barney can be your friend too / If you just make-believe him!”
And in between memories of a happy childhood and dreams of an exciting adulthood, T sang, “I love you / You love me / We’re a happy family / With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you / Won’t you say you love me too / I love you / You love me /We’re best friends like friends should be / With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you / Won’t you say you love me too!”
“Still missing me?”
“No, you are!”
And nothing could come in between the two sisters.