It’s very difficult to express in words what a person you have grown up with means to you; how do you define your love for someone without whom life wouldn’t be life as you know it? So imagine my conundrum when it comes to writing down a birthday wish for my dearest, most wonderful sister.
So many years have gone by where I have — for a loss of words — simply penned ‘Happy Birthday’, when what I really want to say is if today wasn’t the day you were born, then August 10th wouldn’t be the day I was born. But even this is too simplistic, so let me tell you a little story, just a teeny tiny piece, of what my sister means to me.
I must have been five or six years old. The house rules were strict and had to be followed, there was no way around it. One of these rules was to go home right when the maghrib call to prayer sounds. To this day, I am uneasy when I hear this evening sound to prayer because a part of me jumps up frantically, thinking inwardly ‘must go home, must go home’.
My sister and I were enjoying our usual playtime of making spaghetti with grass and all sorts of concoctions out of the many herbs and fruits in our garden. Maghrib would be in a short while, so we were giggling, making the most out of our playtime. Suddenly a neighbour came around — she was much older than even my sister who was around seven or eight. This girl — whose name I have completely forgotten — glanced at our pathetic but enjoyable endeavours at making mud pies and haughtily said
“I can teach you how to make clay dishes.”
Oh I just couldn’t contain my excitement, but to my dismay, I heard the call to prayer. That was it; no clay dishes for us. Right then, my sister, who was also very enthusiastic about this idea, said, what if we ask Mama to let us play just a little longer today? Now the rules were never to be bent, especially this one, since it was the time for us to have our homework checked by our mother, so it was a far cry to begin with. However, Marium somehow worked her magic and to my absolute delight, Mama allowed us 10 minute of extra playtime.
I flew out of the house, face hot with anticipation, and blurted out,
“Let’s go! We have 10 whole minutes.”
There was a pause after which the girl just turned on her heels and said,
“Forget it. What can we even do in ten minutes?”
She walked off. And I was heartbroken. I wanted those clay dishes so badly that I could hardly form a coherent word and to my innocent mind, 10 whole minutes was a huge victory. But the girl skipped back to her house without a care for my cries or Marium’s crestfallen face.
After a lapse of just a few sobs, my sister took my arm and said,
“We don’t need her, we’ll make our own dishes.”
And just like that immediately I quietened down, because I believed her. This is just how it’s always been between the two of us. I fall to pieces and she glues me together, ever so patiently and carefully. My sister has always put her needs and wants after mine and has first tended to my wounds. That day, Marium was just as heartbroken as I was, but she was a lioness for me because that’s the person she is.
My dearest sister, I am so far in your debt that I can hardly see for all that you have and continue to do for me. A lifetime of service to you would not be enough to repay you, so let me just end by saying, I love you, I love you, I love you and I hope you are always happy simply by knowing how happy you have made other people.