I dreaded this moment. Every evening, 7 pm, I would have to put up a brave face and smile, but all I felt like doing was cry. I waved at my twin sister Kinjal and my grandparents. A tight ball lodged in my throat and my eyes burnt with unshed tears. The iron gate of the lift shut with a resounding clang. I choked back my tears and looked at Kinjal as the lift slowly descended from the 5th floor of the Bhatia Hospital. Though my lips were curved in a tight smile, she knew, Kinjal could see right through my farcical smile. I saw the same pain flash in her eyes too. As soon as she was out of my sight, I gave up my pretense and cried with abandon. How would I survive?
It started with a fever that refused to go away. I was diagnosed with Typhoid and I was only six. I was confused to see why my mother was crying because I had never been in a hospital and I didn’t know what having typhoid meant. In my mind it was just fever and the best part was that Mom would stay with me too. Secretly I was also pleased at the idea of getting rid of my bothersome twin sister. All we did was fight when we were together. I being older by 15 minutes was always the ‘elder sister’, expected to ‘understand’. Kinjal being the younger twin was almost always given preference and most arguments ended with a curt command directed at me to give up on being a stubborn mule and being the mature ‘older twin’ which piqued me beyond measure. For this reason alone I was convinced that I was adopted (even though Kinjal and I had the same face because we are identical twins) Yes, I was a silly resentful kid).
We had dramatic fights replete with angry monologues that revolved around gifts given by guests. We fought over EVERY gift and I can recollect several fights. They mostly revolved around who would get which gift. A yellow and green ice cream bowl (coz we both wanted yellow), an apron of power rangers and Barney (coz we both wanted cool power rangers and not a dopey smiling purple dinosaur while we play acted cooking). One time this guest got only one pair of an eye popping shade of red chappals with a huge yellow and purple flower. (Which, when I think in hind sight were hideous), but we both had set our hearts on it.
Our squabbles were so famous (thanks to mom and grand mom who amused the guests with our tales of bickering) that guests began to gift us identical things and continue to do so even today when we are 24. We still have cringe worthy moments when guests recount gifting us identical watches and purses and then they ask us- “will you fight over the same boy too?” (Sigh!) In case you’ll are wondering too….. OBVIOUSLY NOT!
Getting back to my childhood and typhoid, I was instructed by doctors to rest the whole day which seemed like the toughest task to do for a fidgety and playful six year old. The fever felt like a raging flame of fire over my body and to make it worse, I missed spending time with Kinjal even if it was only to quarrel. I was used to always having her around me and I was surprised to realize that I missed her terribly with a yearning so profound that I used to asked mom at least 6 times every day when Kinjal would come to the hospital to meet me.
5 to 7 pm was heaven. It was the visitor’s time and with Kinjal there I was oblivious to the discomfort of bitter medicines and weakness due to fever. She would tell me all about school and what she did in class. She would catch my hand tight when I winced in pain from my injection shot and tried to soothe me afterward with some funny anecdote about school.
Every day she brought along board games and Barbie dolls. She even agreed to give me her favorite Faber Castle water color pencil set, which she never shared with me before. When visiting hours would end, parting from Kinjal was extremely painful. I would cry myself to sleep and wait impatiently for the next day when the clock would strike 5 and Kinjal would come visit me again. I fervently prayed to God to cure me so that I could play and laugh with Kinjal all day long without worrying about it being 7 pm.
Finally after 17 torturous days, I was discharged from the hospital. My happiness knew no bounds. I still had to follow a strict diet of plain food but Kinjal too ate the same ‘sick patient’ food so that I would not feel bad about missing out on delicious meals. Slowly, I regained my health and time erased every bitter memory of the hospital, but something had changed.
A bond had been formed and sealed with love, care and compassion. Those 17 days in the hospital had completely and irrevocably altered the relationship that I shared with my twin sister. She was no longer just a sibling to fight with; she had become my strength, my joy, my support system and above all, my best friend. I feel lucky and eternally grateful to have a sister who loves me so unconditionally. Over the years our relationship flourished and today we are inseparable. So much so that we are often addressed by our friends as a single unit by the moniker- KK hence the name of our blog. Kinjal is the yin to my yang and the wind beneath my wings, my 4 am friend and the person I trust with my life.
I wish for everyone to find the pure soul connection that I share with my twin that has the power to wash away any wounds of grief and heal it with boundless love and care. I wish for everyone to experience that one unbreakable bond that makes life wonderful, meaningful and worth living.