Friday, May 27, 2011

How they became my sisters...

I was going to write about how, with the advent of smart phones, it has become creepy to people-watch. But it’s 2 am, and I’m thinking back to the past few years of my life and the people who have made it so full and vibrant. And, though, my parents and my best friend, Amy (who are really my constants) deserve their own blog posts each, I've decided to dedicate this blog to my sisters from another mister. God dammit, 'brother from another mother' works so much better.

Anyways, I have 8 of them. I am an only child, but I have 8 sisters that know me better than I know myself.
Let’s start with the youngest. Sushmita. My first cousin; it was only a few years back that I used to carry her around in my arms. She would follow me everywhere, and do exactly what I did. She hated eating the malai, or the cream, that formed on top of our grandma’s home-made yogurt until she saw me eat it; then, as she had herself said when she was four: “I suddenly started liking it.” Now she’s all grown up, traveling the world and going on cruises; when asked what her favorite parts of the cruise were, she replied “James and Nick.”
Then there is Nikita. She has the prettiest face and the foulest mouth. We once sat down and I challenged her to say a swear word for every letter of the alphabet in 30 seconds, which meant she barely had a second for each letter of the alphabet. She started rattling off at an impressive speed, starting with the overdone Ass, passing by the Dicks and Fucks, charging through the Sluts and Mofos. But then she came to the letter Q. I held my breath as she paused for 3 heart-stopping seconds. I started sweating and just when she was about to run out of time all together, she yelled out in sheer desperation: “Queen Boob!” At first we both stared at each other startled and speechless; did we just invent a swearword? Then both of us dissolved into uncontrollable laughter; the challenge long-forgotten, but a lifetime of fucking fabulous memories etched into our pasts.   
Anita, the poor soul, was my roommate all through college. We had a particularly sensitive alarm in our apartment; it would go off if someone farted. Every time I cooked, the fire alarm would turn on and I’d have to waive a towel near the alarm, run out with the burnt pan and food into the hallway, leave the hot pan on the carpet and then burn the hallway carpet. Every time I took a shower with the door slightly ajar, the alarm would turn on and I would run out naked, waving a towel in front of the alarm. Every time these things happened, I would pray that Anita wouldn’t walk into the apartment. And every time, she did. She was always a reliable person. At one time, she knew me better than my own mom. In fact, my mom had got me a jar of pickle and she said, “Oh aunty, Shilpi can’t eat pickle. It’s too spicy for her. Here, she likes my cookies…you can give her that.” When I saw my own mom’s startled expression as she got told, I couldn’t help but crack up.
Ashi. I always had a slight crush on her. I still do. And she secretly sweats me too. It was very early on when I realized that even if I tested our friendship to its limits (and I did), she would always stick with me. Freshman year, I had a major case of food-poisoning and I could barely stand up without expelling a good portion of my intestines. I spent some pretty colorful hours in that not-so-clean public bathroom on our 7th floor dorm, but she was right there holding me through every minute. I remember that incident so well; I was curled near the toilet seat when she ran into the bathroom and pulled me up so her face was near mine. I was tired and dehydrated and everything was blurry except for her eyes. Her eyes were the most beautiful light-brown color, outlined with dark kohl. I thought they were the most gorgeous fucking pair of eyeballs I had ever seen. She shook me and yelled, “Shilpi! Wake up! What’s wrong?”
“You,” I replied in a whisper, “have the most beautiful eyes ever.”
She was confused at first, but right before I passed out, I caught her trying not to laugh.
Then there’s Aash , of course. Aash is the one that I’ve had the craziest moments with; the funniest moments; the most memorable moments!  From sneaking into famous architectural landmarks (without paying for it) to driving down the interstate for at least ten minutes while a cop car followed us with its lights and siren on (we were too busy laughing and listening to music) to getting thrown of a banana boat into the ocean so hard that our swim suits came off (I’m pretty sure those boat guys did that on purpose), fun is almost always certain when I hang out with Aash. She is a true friend; and I’m not kidding about that: I’ve seen Aash change the dressing of a bandage on her roommate’s—get this—ass. Why her roommate had a bandage on her ass is another story altogether.
Nisha. We all need a Nisha in our lives. I’m fortunate to have found my Nisha at the age of eighteen. The first time I saw her, I never thought I’d be friends with her; turns out, now I can’t live without her. Seriously, I’m not sure what her husband will think when I move in as their “roommate”. Nish has seen me grow from an 18-year old immature, irresponsible kid to a 26-year old, slightly less immature, negligibly more responsible, I use the term very loosely, adult. She taught me how to ski, how to pay my bills on time, how to pack my own things when I travel, and how to be on time or not be there at all. The only thing I could do in return for all that was to make her rice and zucchini. And I didn’t do it very well. I always made either too much rice or too little zucchini. For some reason, she still chooses to be my friend, and for that reason, itself, I consider her my sister.
Who’s left? Oh yeah, I almost forgot her—she’s so little: my Shilpa. My namesake. The bane of my existence for she totally stole my name and poorly disguised her theft by replacing the uniquely impressive ‘i’, with an over-used, predictable ‘a’. Oh how annoying it is for us to quote each other and have people think that we are just narcissists who couldn’t spell. The figurative God was being extra unimaginative when creating Shilpa and myself, because we are the exact same fucking person. The only difference between us is that one letter at the end of our names. And for that very reason, she is my soul mate. I can be crazy, bitchy, psycho, needy, whinny, cry-baby, whimpering pathetically in a corner, or screaming until I’m hoarse, but she will understand. She always does because our bond goes beyond blood; it is metaphysical. Don’t ask me what that means; all I know is that I can see Shilpa reading this and saying, “It’s true. I don’t know many things, like if Michael Jackson is black or if Janet Jackson is related to Michael Jackson, but I do know that Shilpi and I are metaphysically bonded.”
And my last sister, the most special and the bravest person I know, is my cousin Amrita. Or as I call her, Koel. Where do I begin? You know what, I’ll just leave it off with one of our usual dialogues that we have—it should give you a good idea of the whimsical yet weighty nature of our sisterhood:
Doel: We’re like too peas in a pod.
Koel: Yes; like a spontaneous case of mycosis. Or is that mitosis?
Doel: This is why we’re single; because we use analogies like that.
Koel: Why don’t you go terrorize yourself in front of the mirror?
Doel: Was that an attempt at a joke?
Koel: You just don’t understand my idiosyncratic jokes.
Doel: Do you even know what idiosyncrasy means?
Koel: Enlighten me.
Doel: It is a weird, unique association of something.
Koel: Well, let me explain the weird, unique association of my joke.
Doel: Please don’t. It’s 3 am. Can you tell me why good things only happen in movies?
Koel: I guess we’ve had some pretty bad things happen, huh? Don’t worry; good things will happen in the future.
Doel: And what about Neil?
Koel: He’ll always be there; through the good times and the bad.