Archive for February, 2011

It isn’t always that of a comfortable feeling even though I enjoyed the privileges. Even during those childhood days, while in playgound, around dusk, my sister and her friends would call out to each other and they will leave. Of course it never seemed as if they wanted to. Because that’s when she would look at me with a stern look for I as her do not have the responsibility of performing the daily evening religious rites at home. I knew it never meant she hated me for real. For she laughed and is crazy in her ways of playing tricks with me and she was the best in bullying me because she wears the hat of an elder. But if not for those tricks, she would not have been that much fun of a sister. Elderly respect was most constantly reminded by her and taught by her. She didn’t talk much to me but when she did she made sure she lay in firm those moral codes of respect to elders, with a totally grim and the look of an ideal, as in the motherly elder sister teaching her son of a younger brother, a moral lesson of unbroken tradition and one of the highly held mannerism in Meitei society – respect to elders. And when she was done with the lecture, she never had anymore to say or listen but to look away, and strange because she seemed to be fighting a smile.. she would break into a smirky giggle as she kind of run-walked away. And after a while I could hear her wild laughter from her bed. Of course she had done her best to cover it as u can surely pick up the effects of those pillows and piles of blanket that she had just piled on to herself. While the blankets and the pillows couldn’t contain her laughter, it surely puzzled me. At those times I use to think about those folklores about the sibbling of courageous and protective brothers and the kind and homely sister. I know I love my sister, infact a lot, but it never actually came a time when I have to protect her because even I knew that I cant mess with her, until and unless I am an elderly relative of her. Because that was the code she preaches me. It bind me to her and the rest of the family to us. She did took her advantage of me being younger to her, but rightly so i think, for she never talked back to the elders at home. She would be called stubborn by the family for her grit. She was the pioneer of slent resistance in our family of five. Sometimes she wont talk to anyone of us for days or stop eating at home. She was strong and believes in fighting. She was telling us that if we mess with her more, she isn’t scared and doesn’t mind about letting go of us. As of somebody who isn’t from the family then I knew they were going in for something unpleasant if they want to mess with her. She just wont take any shit. Infact, when the elder kids from our boys gang would bully me, she was the one to rescue me and tell them off… And to talk about courage, I think she was the one who taught me. Nearby our house, there was a dilapidated and abandoned house. Around that was lots of trees. That apparently was like army camp for the locality kids. We learned wall climbing, jumps and falls, balancing on the broken walls. We learned high-walking, walking on the tall wall that have remained in some of the rooms whose ceiling had collapsed down. We learned climbing trees. And I admit I am scared of heights, but she knew her way of getting me up those walls and trees. While all the boys and the girls had tried their best to encourage me to climb up and even-after that I was still fidgetting, she would say, “Leave it. He is a coward. Even a girl can climb but he wont.” and she would turn away un-interestedly. That was her line and most of the time it worked. And while I was midway struggling up the wall I could see her hand for support. Up there she would say, “See.. its not that difficult and it feels wonderful up here.” and she would smile at me. Then she would add,”now that you are up here, why don’t you join me in jumping down into those piles of sand? It wont hurt….”. She would go first explaining to me how to jump and how to land so that I don’t get hurt. Then again, after a little more shouting and yelling from her from below, I would jump. Again she would smile and I knew that I was not going to be bullied by her for that day. And those were among the rare times that I could see some pride and love from her. Otherwise it was the grim elderly face she maintains. Especially with me. She was this out-spoken and cheerfully mad girl. But that kind of a sister she was only when it was about pulling my legs otherwise the pretentious grim elderly face. I always wondered what she really got out of it because she actually didn’t hate me. She was always there for me. And sometimes she would feel so lame in her grimness that I couldn’t resist and give her a snort and the pretense will break and she would blush and laugh out and very shamefully say something elderly and giggle away from me. And for those time I would chicken out of anything, she would come and say,”its okay. May be next time. But its not as difficult as it look like.” and even then she would smile.

Soon as we grew older, it was not just the evening rites but it was told that she as a girl had to be home before dark. So we boys saw her and her friends gradually missing out of the group. And as she became of junior school she was not among us in the trees, she would be seen hanging out at home with her friends. Earlier they were more like friends, but as they reached junior schools they began to look more like the sisters as in books and texts. The playground became more like a boys hang-out. And great fun we had hanging out late in the playground. As we grew it just suited itself in many ways providing us the space away from home where we were mostly free of all the rules. Somewhere we missed them and at certain festivals when it was customary for the youth, both boys and girls of the locality, to prolonged the festivities through out the night with the girls making food while the boys keeps the bon-fire alive, we found the lost company back. And amazingly, as homely as they had turned, they still were a great company as before and the thrills from those adventures from childhood seems to have resumed its flow again continued in somewhat familiar stories among a familiar and long missed company. Though, this time, mostly us boys narrating while they listen intently and for sure, they understood each and every pun of adventurousness and free spiritedness in the stories from the then playground and the extended territory of night streets.

Somehow, there never seems a regret in me in the way our life became so different. But it wasnt that much of a comfortable-acceptance either. Somewhere I always feel that I should have shared chores of every sort with her. But then again as per what the family instructed it was not a boy’s job and so convenient for me to just say ‘no’ even if she asked me to help because she cant argue much. It was how it should be according to the family and the society at large. But yet it never felt right. And, at times, when I did give her a helping hand, it never felt as if I was doing a part of my job but it always felt like I was extending a helping hand. The childhood story is just another story to begin with. I certainly enjoyed a lot more freedom of male privilege while somewhere the feminine expectations of the society from her seem to have made her more home-bound. I could never understood, where went her free spirit and the adventurous energy? I guess, it turned into focus in study. For that, as she kept telling me during teen and now, is the only thing that will make her stand on her own feet. This line replaced the pretentious lectures on moral codes on respect for the elders and this time she didn’t sound pretentious at all. But yes, the grim on her face remained. And fortunate of her, because our parents wouldn’t bind us in pursuit of higher studies and, in this matter, gives equal weight-age to both boys and girls. Her pursuit for further studies did took her to places away from home. And when I went to meet her in Chandigarh where she was pursuing her further study, she was much more cheerful in general then the teen and high school girl that she were at home. But it didn’t stopped me from wondering, if at all she wasn’t good with studies, then would I have seen that cheerful person. And the exciting secret stories of trips to places where she went without informing home that we share won’t have been there at all. If not for her studies, she could have ended stucked at home with an embroidery machine. Me as a boy do not have to worry about being bound at home for we, as according to the societal norm, are to be led free. And I really liked it. More than the so called need-to-face-the-world to prepare oneself to be man, what I enjoyed was the freedom and more than preparing myself, I led myself to wander. And, for the lesson I was supposed to learn, it just was all in the experience and not in preparedness. Sometimes I wonder if, like the way I enjoyed gradually becoming more and more free as I grew, whether she liked it getting gradually more and more bound to home. I guess she wasn’t for she was much cheerful at chandigarh !!!! ……..

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