Life isn’t always the shortest journey to make and company usually helps. When growing up our siblings have always been our company and always bring back the fondest of memories. The fights and the hugs, the tears and the bruises, all have special places on our hearts.
Just like the Pleiades constellation, I have nine sisters. Yes NINE!
They are Radhika, Anisha, Deepal (Tinkoo – don’t kill me for calling you this in public), Komal, Binal, Sangita, Rakhee, Deepa and not forgetting the lovely Kajal (Koko). I have had very fond memories (and some not so fond memories) with everyone one of them.
This is a small post to dedicate and relive those little memories that mean so much to me.
Radhika, thank you for stabbing me in the knee with a scissor. Thank you also for lending me money numerous times despite charging me compound interest on a daily basis. Not many of you know this but Radhika convinced me to run away from home when I was 10 and she was 7. You also don’t know that somehow my mum ‘forgot’ the year she was born and until recently we thought she was two years younger than me when she actually is three years younger than me. Let me elaborate a little on her plan to run away from home and live the good life. My parents were very active with the Lions Club and one time we all went to help out at an orphanage or some school. Somehow we got separated from them and one of the other members dropped us home. Radhika insisted that there was a lunch plan after the event and everyone would be there but we had been dropped home on purpose because they didn’t want us there. So we decided to walk it and join them. We left home in Ganjoni, walked to the Likoni ferry, crossed it and tried to walk it to Shelly beach. At one point out of exhaustion, hunger and thirst she decided to eat some berries on the side of the road making her sick and nauseous. Let me cut this long ordeal of ours short and get to the end. We gave up on going to where my parents were, turned back and went to Mombasa Sports Club. We signed for some food (you didn’t need to pay for stuff there, just sign on your account and pay at end month – dad would foot this bill), some drinks and that is when it struck her that we could live at the club forever and not need to go to school and eat and drink to our fill – and dad would pay the bill and not know where we were.
Yes, she isn’t very bright.
Anisha, Tinkoo, Komal, Sangita and Rakhee all lived in Nairobi and I came up from Mombasa every holiday with my granddad. We moved religiously between the ‘big house’ in Ngara and the flat in Parklands.
Anisha introduced me to what to me, then, was probably the biggest shopping mall in the world I had ever seen. Full of shops with all kinds of wares, from shoes and clothes to jewellery and food, the likes that a Mombasa bow like me had never seen in his life. She introduced me to Diamond Plaza.
Tinkoo was always the naughty one and Anisha would always either me scolding her or covering for her. Tinkoo was also moody and sometimes we had to bribe her to come along with us to Diamond Plaza. Tinkoo once asked me if I wanted to go cycling in the compound and since I loved cycling I accepted. We went down, she got on her bike, pointed a spare one that I could use to me and we cycled around the yard. After some time a little boy came out, looked at me, started crying and went away. The next thing I remember I was being scolded for ‘borrowing’ a bike without permission. That embarrassment still lives on.
When Komal was born, she was very tiny and she still is. She is one of the quietest ones out of the lot. She was always loving and caring and she was my favourite cousin for the sheer reason that she would always run errands for me in an around the house. We never really bonded till very recently when she came down for Radhika’s wedding. That is when we all learnt that still waters run deep and she is a little terror. Ok, ok I lie, she is still as loving and timid as ever. We all went down to Mombasa to relive some memories and when we reached our old house Anisha was in tears and pointed the house out to Komal. Komal comforted her and hugged her and indicated to us she had no idea what was going on. It was so funny to the rest of us but we couldn’t laugh because Anisha was crying her eyes out.
Sangita and Rakhee both lived at the ‘big house’ and to be honest I was always scared if them. I think it stemmed from the fact that their dad was the eldest in our family and by default the strictest.
Sangita was our designated carer and she would make sure we kept busy somehow. In my case despite being on holiday, I would be given multiplication tables and spellings to master. I was not allowed to watch TV or go out until I had finished the days quota.
Rakhee has always been a quiet one but she would look in and correct the mistakes that I had made on the tables. She always had colourful erasers that smelt so good, you could eat them. Once in a while, she would give me one.
Sangita and Rakhee moved to UK a long time ago, but every year, without fail, the rakhi’s come by post with a long letter and heartfelt blessings.
From the time we were young my parents had always worked long or double shifts leaving us at home alone. Although Binal was our neighbour, she has been as close as a sister to me as any of the others. She was our official baby sitter, replacement mother and confidant. We walked to school and back together and she gave me so much life-changing advise that I don’t think I would be half the person I am if it was not for her keen ear and sound advise. I wore my first ever English suit (borrowed) to her wedding because it would look cool. Having said that, I would like to point out that wearing a suit in Mombasa sitting next to a raging fire for four hours is not very smart whether you look cool or not, you will definitely not be cool. She recently delivered twin boys and I cant wait to hold them.
When Deepa first came to Kenya, she was very little (she was a teenager but still). We took her to the beach and she was scared of everything. From the seaweed to the waves to the coconut seller to the beach boy to tourists. We convinced her that it was safe as houses in the sea and took her in at low tide. The moment the water touched her ankles she ran back out and I can not recall if she ever went back to the sea on that holiday. After very many years we had a reunion in India and we went to Goa. Guess what, she wasn’t scared of the water but found it too cold. I have never understood how people living in the UK find things cold. She has a lovely daughter, who unlike Deepa is not scared of water and spent a lot of time with us in the pool.
Koko was one of the first sisters to get married and we got titbits of information from visiting relatives, letters (yes letters) and photo’s sent to us in Mombasa. With the advent of facebook, we kept in touch on a more regular basis and recently met up at her younger brothers wedding in India. Needless to say it was a noisy and emotional reunion. The whole trip was full of laughs and misadventures but memorable moments. She has always been encouraging, supportive and most of all caring. She will send an email every time by facebook status suggests that I am ill or unwell. If she doesn’t see a facebook post from me for over a day, she will straight away send an email to ask after me.
I do have many more cousin sisters but the Pleiades, these nine, hold some of my most cherished memories. It’s easy to be a brother, it’s very difficult to be a sister.
You all have been caring and understanding, you all have moulded me into what I am today. Your blessings are the biggest gift I have ever had. I love each of you very much. Your prayers of protection have watched over me countless times. For Raksha Bandhan this year, I pray that God may give to you abundantly and may the best of your past, be the worst of your future.
Thank you each and every one of you.