I believe that having a sister is the coolest thing ever. Ladies, if you have just one daughter, try for another.
My own sister Hanna is my fashion guide, movie-buddy, mind reader…and spirit animal (just kidding, I don’t even know what a spirit animal is). I can always count on her to be with me at those interminable functions or events that us Indian girls are forced to be at (where are our brothers at these events, you might ask? They were allowed to stay home and play Playstation. Maybe our parents thought the girls are like those debutantes from Jane Austen’s time, who needed be “seen” on the scene. But I digress…) Hanna will bust a happy-dance move with me for any small random awesomeness that only we understand, and we can talk in half-formed sentences, sometimes just one word conveying a whole history of meaning. She is also always ready to say “BAM!” at any given moment, and everyone needs a Bam-Girl around. It makes life worth living.
Then there’s the cousins who are like sisters, and these often inevitably end up being the Khala’s daughters. The reason probably is that our mothers also know the value of their sisters, so we end up spending a lot of time with those ladies, to our immense benefit.
I have only 1 sister and I have only 1 khala, but my 1 sweety-khala was kind enough to have given me 4 more sisters (thanks Aunty-tjie!)
If I ever vaguely yell “mum?” into a room where both sweety-khala and mum are sitting, they will both look up and say yes. Khala’s are second moms. Sweety-khala is not afraid to tell me when I’m wrong, treats me like a daughter, planned my wedding and made sure it went smoothly, calmed my mom down when I was acting crazy, and just generally being one of the most fun, practical, energetic and lovely ladies I know. Khala teaches me the value of a good list (I love making lists) and how to throw a shoe with flair (in long-gone days she was always throwing shoes at the kids to get their attention:)
Moms are well – moms. My mom has a laugh that can stop traffic (in a good way), a giggle that can warm your heart and a streak of perfectionism that I will never match. She is always trying to psycho-analyse us, much to Hanna and my amusement (because I have no idea where her theories come from) but she is always there: to stitch up a trouser, whip up a meal, laugh at a funny picture, dish on the gossip and give tons of advice. Having a young (and young-at-heart) mom and khala keep things rolling at the speed of fun.
I spent most of my childhood with Rania, just a few months older than me, who is one of sweety-khala’s middle children. We spent endless days together, sharing our common belief that one of our great-aunts looked very much like Nelson Mandela, studying together, making big decisions together, crying and laughing and chilling and everything in between. Rania was my first love (in a totally platonic way guys!) And she is so beautiful MashaAllah! May her future daughters have all of that beauty and more, InshAllah.
Nadia is the youngest of the bunch, whose childhood we stole by always being around – by this I mean that she was always surrounded by older girls, making her mature beyond her years. This is the girl who will make a plan and enlist the help of strangers to get stuff done. She is the youngest but the most resourceful person I know – and brave!
Rania, Nadia, Hanna and I were always off on a mission, building the tent, choreographing a dance, experimenting with make-up, taking our first selfies together, whiling away endless holiday hours playing scrabble or Jenga or building puzzles or playing TeacherTeacher/AuntyAunty/The Durban game (where we all pretended to pack up and be off on an adventure to Durban) and just plain being together.
Razina and Raha are the older sisters I never had. They taught me the facts of life (to my utter horror), took us along on holidays, faffed around with us when we were too young to be cool or interesting and were really the inspiration for Rania, Nadia, Hanna and my growth into women. I think the 4 of us all wanted to be just like Razina and Raha (not a bad idea at all).
Razina is gentle (with surprising outbursts of humour and laughter) while Raha is our ringleader. Raha knows someone who knows something, she can get you a deal, give you directions, hand-make something that can be handmade (I can’t even give a concrete example here ‘coz I can’t hand-make anything) and basically sort out all of life’s problems. Her mind works so practically that my mind just boggles. Razina is the pacifier, keeping everyone happy and loved and feeling toasty inside.
Razina and Raha are now bringing up our next generation of ladies, and watching those girls play and love each other like we do, I know that their childhoods will be just as special as ours was.
With the backdrop to my life filled with scenes acted out by these ladies, I must say: life is good.
So here’s to all the amazing ladies in our lives. Jummuah Mubaarak!