Wednesday, February 03, 2010


We are four sides to a square, each holding that precarious balance, their piece of our existence as a whole. We are a range of colours and shapes and emotions, an abstract painting done in some dream of light, a reflection through a foggy mirror, each of us swimming into the next, the distinction so clear and yet so blurry. We can be the same person if we swim far back enough, can reach that point where our hearts are still beating in one spot, are still fed directly from our mother, where our minds do not yet fully exist, where our worlds are warm and fuzzy and hold you so close, so protective, there is nothing to do but be held.
I am a different person with my sisters, different with each of them and yet exactly the same because it is not a secretive change, but a natural one. I am a clown with S, a writer with H, and a sweetheart with A. We fit into each other’s clothes, steal shoes and thoughts and old headscarves, steal ideas. We steal and are stolen from willingly, listen and talk silently, hug and cry when there is nothing else to be done. My sisters stretch before me like sign posts, they stretch after me like a trail of fans, following every step, waiting, breath held, to see what I will do next.
A is the oldest, and so sweet there is something beguiling in her smile. You can’t help but have some of it rub off on you when you’re with her – you start to think more kindly, to talk more earnestly, to ignore the things that drive you crazy. A tricked our parents into thinking all little girls were so angelic, so they went and had more of us, and for that we all owe her.
H is the witness, the one who chronicles our lives, all the joys and the heartbreaks – the graduations and marriages, the births, the reunions and separations. H will make you cry no matter how determined you may be to keep your eyes dry and your face stern. She will find that spot in you by telling, by reminding, by making you soar first and dive later, reach your humanity, your longing. When we are 80 and we want to remember, it is to H’s words that we will turn. When we are 80, she will still find ways to make us cry.
S is the baby and the joker. She is the opening line of a performance that started off as a simple phone call, and the comic relief at the end of any hardship. S has a knack for words and keeps it a secret, tucked away beneath a straight face, sparkling eyes deadpan, waiting for you to crack first. And though she’s the baby she’s been everywhere and done everything. She steamrolls right past you – not showy or obvious, but quietly doing her exceptional thing as though it was nothing, and blushing when you point out the accomplishments, wishing you would stop.
I do not know who I am without them – I am attempts at A’s kindness and gentleness, H’s intensity and lyricism, S’s wit and humility. I am attempts to emulate each of my sisters, falling short and hoping to some day catch up, happy in the meantime that I at least have the teachers to guide me.

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