The Sister of My Dreams
We are often disappointed when our dreams for the future are not fulfilled. What if we get what we need in place of things and people we wished for?
‘Make a wish!’ Shikha said and the others took up the chant.
‘Make a good wish,’ my sister Priya whispered. ‘Remember, it will come true!’
Ha, I thought, looking at the thirteen candles on my cake. The last time I had wished on a cake had been six years back, when Amma had told me she was going to have a baby. I had wished for a sister and that part of my wish had come true. But I had wished for a sister just like me and instead, I had got Priya.
‘Make a wish,’ my friends were saying while Priya danced in the middle of the circle they made. I hadn’t wished for a dancing sister; the sister of my dreams played a violin while I played the tabla. But Priya didn’t want to learn music; all she wanted was to dance to it.
Someone turned off the light so the candles glowed golden. There had been six candles the last time and I had made six wishes. One of those wishes had been that my sister would hate all the vegetables I disliked. The two of us could have teamed up to fight Amma. No more cucumbers or beetroots, I had thought then. And instead I had got the only vegetable loving child in the world for my sister! She crunched carrots and cucumbers, ate green peas by the handful and begged Amma for brinjal. She was the one who had asked for vegetable sandwiches for my party when I would have demanded fries and chips. The only advantage to this was that Priya helped me finish my vegetables so I didn’t get into trouble with Amma. All she asked for in return was that I read stories to her. And that was another of my dreams, completely destroyed.
I had wished for a book crazy sister so we could have long discussions about our favourite books. But Priya was only interested in tearing up my books. Some of them she had even tried to eat up. Then, fortunately for me and my books, she had discovered vegetables. Since then she had stopped tearing up books. But she still did not like to read. What she liked was listening to me reading to her. She would sit that way for hours, while I read out my favourite stories to her.
‘Neha,’ someone jabbed me so I jumped, ‘make a wish so we can cut the cake!’ It was Priya, Priya who would happily hand over her slice of the cake to me, Priya who would keep me awake so I would read out all my new books to her. Priya, who was not the sister I had wished for. But who had, over the years, become the sister that I wanted very much.
‘What are you going to wish for?’ she whispered to me now.
What could I wish for? ‘Nothing,’ I said and blew the candles out.
This story was published in Young World, the children’s pages of The Hindu.