“You’re right!” I agreed, nodding my head furiously as I walked towards my sister in the buffet, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure! I get your point now. Definitely!” I asserted in front of all the wedding guests where she chose to create her little scene. With a very cool sisterly stance, I took her Blackberry and threw it into the fountain.
It came out of nowhere. She wasn’t expecting it, which is fine because she never pauses to think about what comes next in an argument. She just goes on asserting her point which she completely believes is right. But I wasn’t expecting I would do this either and neither were the guests who were amused, annoyed and disgusted by our little charade. The argument wasn’t about the Blackberry. It was about some stupid dress instead. The dress was hers and I wanted to borrow it for a party and she said no. I persisted and she gave me a list of reasons why the dress is ‘not for me’. I called her a bitch and she flew out of the room where there was no one towards the buffet where she counted on the impartial audience to give her moral backing and I followed in hot pursuit knowing this is going to end badly. I didn’t know, for her.
This happened in high school and I still remember the fight very well, not because it was the most awful fight we ever had, because we were nasty squabblers who often got physical in fights, scratching, biting and the works. It was, but the first time I ever coolly, randomly, did something that had to be done a long time ago. There is a reason why my twin sister drags the arguments into public, why she prolongs them to the point of breaking on my part while she herself remains indulgently self-righteous until the end. Of course, she never listens to the other side of the story, but she does it so brazenly at that giving total attention to her BB messenger while she formulates her next point instead of listening to mine. If she doesn’t have her phone, it is something else. She would throw sweet smiles at random strangers, when we are walking on the street and I am getting all worked up. In the kitchen she would taste her concoctions with a deep concentrated frown as I am jumping up and down the sofa begging for her to listen to me. And so on.
I remember us being just the right twin sisters when we were kids, loving the same games, loving the sandbox, having conversations about school and so on. And one day, one of us decided to go against the other and so the rift began. The easiest way to do that was of course, choosing between listening to our parents or not, especially when one of us doesn’t agree. My father is a German and my mother an Austrian and we were raised in Canada. So there was indeed a lot of extra weight given to our German origins and it wouldn’t always be easy to follow my parent’s wishes. “You cannot do whatever you feel like doing,” was my dad’s solution for the whole problem. Looking back now, I believe my sister chose the easiest way and decided to act according to my parents’ wishes most of the time while I tediously tried to find a loophole for every single rule they placed. Sometimes she did it just to make me more miserable, in the process formulating all those rationalisations for the meaningless rules she followed and lending them to my ears when I desperately needed hers.
The funny part was, she was doing it all wrong! Dead wrong. All I would want for her is to not do the same mistakes as I did. But she would believe that since she had always followed the rules and did nothing wrong in her life, she cannot go wrong. How can someone just live their entire life believing they are not capable of making a mistake? How can I, being her twin sister, not be able to make her see that? Why do we assert and back-up what we do and why we do it with a thousand statements and examples and cultural precincts when none of us goes through the same things as someone else?
My sister and I drifted apart over the years and I have come to live in New York to become independent. Looking at things from the outside now, I have a better perspective of what was going on between the two of us and our little family. We were a righteous bunch of people, often with good reason. I have always admired my parents for the values they live with, their loyalty towards their home country and the way they expressed their nationality in the Canadian society with complete faith and freedom.
I surely learnt a few good things about sticking to what you believe and standing up for them, from my parents. As a family, we were tightly bound by pure values. But these values were not expressed in words. Some alien German stuff was. These ‘values’ were felt. Right then, right there. And they made sense. When we would socialise as a unit, I and my sister would never differ with my parents, she more than me. We would, even I would, display absolute faith in my roots and smartly try to point out how they give me a much-needed perspective in life and how they are still relevant to all the problems we face today. And she would lecture people. The things my sister does in the name of beliefs is laughable if not so frustrating. At the dinner table at home, whenever we eat together, we would say grace and look at each other’s faces for conversation. More times than not, there isn’t much to be said. We exchange news and brief advice on impending decisions, a few warm smiles and move on to dessert. We kept it simple, because the four of us were aware of the underlying tensions we’d rather not bring on to the surface. Actually, the three of us, I’d say, because my father was much like my sister and had no differences with his own three sisters making his beliefs way stronger than ours. I guess my sister picked up his worst trait of being stubborn and self-righteous, while I picked up my mother’s worst trait of being acquiescent to the point of being self-destructive.
So yes, it was a rather important moment for me when I walked up to my sister in that party and threw her damn phone in the fountain—with no intent of malice, I must stress, but pure reason! It wasn’t my fault that she went hysterical and lunged at me like a maniac, landing herself in the water face down in the process. It definitely wasn’t my fault that her chin hit the cherub’s statue and started bleeding so profusely that she had to be rushed to the emergency. And no way, am I taking the fall for the doctor being a delinquent who couldn’t even do proper stitches, giving her a permanent scar. A little my fault that I didn’t try to make it up to her in the months that followed when she wouldn’t talk to me or even look at me. And yes, it is completely my fault that I couldn’t come up with a list of reasons and explanations for why I did what I did like she always does.
I don’t know at what point in my life, it became important for me to do things just for the sake of doing them. To trust my impulses instead of any in-bred values or traditions and just go with the flow. But I know that sometimes in life, you just have to do what you have to do and it doesn’t matter if you can’t explain it for the rest of your time here. Sometimes you have to do just what you ‘feel’ like doing. Today, I make it a point to be in touch with her, to invite her out to wherever I am spending New Years and to do stuff together, even though we are completely different people now. It feels like I am much older than her, though we are born minutes apart. But we don’t push opinions on each other anymore, offer useful practical advice and keep our mouths shut when the other person’s situation is too bleak to be helped…like when she started dating that doofus. Yeah, she had good reason and I can see her point. Sure.