If I had one word to describe my life to you right now, I’d choose stagnant. Now, not everything in life has come to a stop, but most of it has, in a way. It’s been ten days since school re-opened for our extra classes and these have been the fastest slowest days I remember. We were busy from day one and I actually enjoyed working with the new methods of studying and note-taking I learned from the Studyblr community on Tumblr and Instagram over the last few months. But besides schoolwork, nothing is moving ahead in my life.
Right now, I’m having the most trouble with my writing. My writing internship has started and I’ve submitted the outline for my first article. The internship consists of writing about social issues in India, so on days I’m supposed to be working on those articles, I will have an outline or a topic to guide my writing. But I’m supposed to start working on it only next week. For the past week – more than that, actually – writing has been painful. I sit down to write, and I feel dread washing over me because it’s almost the end of the day and I have no idea what I’m going to write 750 words about. Some weeks ago, I started using a random word generator to inspire me and I’d been having so much fun writing that way, not only because I did not have to think for long about a topic, but also because it actually inspired stories that I never wanted to end. They felt like the stories I could write all the time. I’d had a great streak of inspired days and my writing was flowing smoothly. On some days, I forgot the word limit and wrote a couple hundred more.
But then, like all things, my days of fun suddenly ended. The so-called “writer’s block” barred my way. I looked for journaling prompts but they weren’t enough for 750 words. I looked for creative non-fiction prompts, but it felt like I had run out of stories to tell about my life (I haven’t). I did not look for fiction prompts because it feels like copying off someone’s idea, and I don’t want that; I want to be original. I went to the random word generator but it failed to inspire me too.
Basically, I was stuck, but I knew I had to write because I had given myself this task of writing everyday. Moreover, with every passing day the idea of breaking my almost-yearlong writing streak, became an even more horrifying nightmare than before. I was stuck and they say that the only way to get unstuck is to write, so I wrote. I wrote 750 words of dread and compulsion for a week. Words that I had no fun writing but that I hoped would be worthwhile someday. I’m still hanging onto that hope. I’m very tired today and even these words don’t seem to reach that 750-word mark.
The writing upset me, but so did almost everything else. I had resolved at the beginning of the year to be a good sister. I’d not really planned any resolutions- the New Year was creeping closer and it felt like I should have something to focus on in the next year, so I made a list of all the things I thought I could improve in. Growing a plant was something I’d wanted to do just as a hobby but being a good sister was something I should’ve started doing long ago. But it’s not easy for me. For the past few years I’ve been occupied with only myself – my interests, my dreams, my life. Sometimes it feels like I’m still too self-centered
Yesterday, after my mother scolded Sonavee, my sister, for some reason or the other, she started crying – silently, away with her dolls in the little closet-like room that we have – I went to snuggle up with her because I hate to see her crying. It doesn’t really affect me that much when she’s crying unnecessarily for no reason, but it hurts to see her cry when all she wants to do is have fun, even if it means not doing her homework until bedtime. After she quieted down, she decided she wanted to play with me so she brought out her Barbie dolls. Handing the grown-up Barbie to me, with her orange and golden gown and her long hair, she said it was me, and then bringing out a little Barbie girl with a blue and pink dress and a pony tail, she told me it was her. Big sister and little sister. Ratika and Sonavee.
Then she invited me over to lunch and made me summer food we can’t yet make because the mangoes haven’t arrived yet. I waited because I did not want to upset her, but I hated myself for every minute that I spent playing with her. I hated myself because I was impatient and I wanted it all to be over as soon as possible so I could go and do my own work. I hated myself because I had to make myself stay with her as if it was a compulsion, instead of being there because I loved her and was having fun with her. I wasn’t.
I was loving her the wrong way. I left from there as soon as I could without hurting her and told myself that I had failed miserably in being a good sister. Was it really love if I had to force myself to show it to her? Was I really being a good sister when I talked harshly with her way more than I spoke softly to her? Did I really know how to love?
This is where I see things coming to a stop. My relationship with Sonavee isn’t going anywhere. She’s a precious soul – she has qualities most grown-ups don’t have – and we can never be like her. Time and again I feel like I’m going to miss an important part of our relationship when I go abroad to study – she’ll grow up into a teenager and I won’t be there to be her best friend. Of course she would find her own BFF, but I’ve wanted to be her special friend since years – I couldn’t wait for her to grow-up so that I could take her out to watch a movie together, eat pizza or go window-shopping – do the kind of things cool sisters do together. Being siblings and friends at the same time.
But I don’t see that happening now. I won’t be around when she’ll turn twelve; I won’t be around when she’ll needed to be taken care of during her Board Exams; I won’t be there to talk with her about what she wants to do in the future. And I’ll might have turned into a stranger when I’ll come back home.
Maybe I’m being too dramatic and overemotional about everything; maybe it’s all the stories of separation we’d been reading in English over the last two years that’s making me anticipate a similar ending for our relationship. Maybe we’d stay in touch over the years I’ll be away and she would really consider me her BFF. Maybe I won’t really miss out on all these important occasions. Maybe, by the time I return, I would have learned how to love.
Because yesterday afternoon with her I realized that I need to.
“That’s the best thing about little sisters: They spend so much time wishing they were elder sisters that in the end they’re far wiser than the elder ones could ever be.”
― Gemma Burgess