My oldest bud

India has managed to retain the great binding power of the concept of “family” unlike many other countries, where kids become independent and usually move out soon as they are out of school/ college.

But as much as there is to be proud of such a culture, I still hate one part of it. And that’s the part where daughters, who essentially form an integral part of any family, get married and move to their husband’s place.

Which is why that in India, when daughters and sisters are on the verge of getting married, it suddenly fills your family with a strong and mixed whirl of emotions, joy that your daughter is going to start a new life, and yet a strong selfish urge to keep her in front of your eyes forever.

Now there’s a reason I’ve been repeatedly using the word ‘daughter’ in this post, much more than the word ‘sister’. While many of us have been blessed with a sister, guess it was partly to do with the upbringing, and partly some other unexplained bond, because of which for most part, I treated my sister like a daughter. I’d be protective, I’d get worried when she was out late, I’d defend her (though only when she was right), I’d shout and correct her when she’d goof up (it’s another story that she’d keep doing the same things again and again, till you gave up on correcting her for it). And while I would use foul language with friends in school, I never wanted her to pick up any of that, so the moment I was with her on the bus, I’d switch off, and not a foul word would be spoken in her presence. I’d even fondly call her ‘bachchi’; a Hindi word for ‘girl child’.

A few months ago, in what felt shorter than a blink of the eye, her engagement was done, and all that was looming on my family’s mind was planning out the enormous task of organizing her wedding that was up a few months later. The four months subsequent to the engagement flew like you’d never believe.

From the invitation cards to clothes shopping, to guest lists, to so many other lists, it was only during one of my lone drives to Pune and back that it hit me that soon I was not going to be able to see my sister, my bachchi as often as I was used to. It’s amazing how you can get so used to people around that you assume that nothing will ever change. And here my head echoed with a deafening ticking of a countdown clock to her wedding.

She was probably the first and is probably the oldest friend I have. Lunch together, bus rides from school, the never-ending fights, the abdominal-catch- inducing jokes we’d share, the late night chats about problems we faced, and so on. From discussing my career to my crushes, I had a solid pal in my sister all along. If I were to pick any memory of my childhood, she has a prominent presence in it.

The past week was filled with function after function, parties, get-together’s, and the whole jazz. And while I have probably never enjoyed myself as much at any other wedding or wedding related function before this, I still had this unhappiness hanging around at the back of my mind, as I knew that they were merely steps in the process of taking my little sister away from me. And to add to it, the fact that Indian weddings are so elaborate that you end up spending most of the last few weeks before the wedding in preparation, rather than with your daughter/ sister; that’s something I didn’t like.

And yet, before I could get a grip on things, she was married, and while she will always be a part of the family, it will be difficult not getting to see her ever so often at home.

And in all this symphony of emotions, the only solace is the fact that we managed to identify for her, a partner who we feel is more than ideal; a perfect companion for her. He is, what I feel, an extension of the love, care and affection we have for her; an extension of, and to our family.

So here’s wishing my oldest friend, my pal, my bachchi, my lil sister, all the happiness in the world.!