bitter sweet bonds
A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double.
~ Toni Morrison
Sisterhood is an accident of birth that may very well start at shared blood and last names, but end in an all encompassing relationship in which each sibling is required to play many a different role and nurture many a different persona for sake of her other half. With the same first associations, habits and upbringings, it is a relationship which automatically means one has at her disposal an unpaid messenger to Mum, a new make-up guinea pig, a midnight snack companion, perpetual rivalry and comparison, an undeserved emulator, the most loyal of defenders and the most indispensable of best friends. But most importantly, it means having a relationship that outlasts marriages, stands after the death of parents and resurfaces after the worst of quarrels.
This week's Centrefold traces through this uncanny love-hate relationship in which it is possible to love someone as dearly as can be loved and want to wring her neck at the same time!
We may look old and wise to the outside world. But to each other- we're still in junior school.
~ Charlotte Gray
However many candles are added to the cake or whatever the amount of wisdom accumulated, sisters know each other as they always were. On the inside of private family jokes, they are the dual keepers of secrets, the sharers of joys and the sufferers of feuds.
To them, wrinkles aren't added, maturity isn't gained and lives aren't spent; they live outside the touch of time and can see still the starry-eyed first crush expression under seven decade old lashes.
Having a sister is a way of holding on to your past, making sure fragments of childhood are never lost. She knows how to get to the house that no longer stands, can hum the songs that are no longer played and locate the bumps and bruises that no longer show. It is a mutuality of parentage that gives each sibling a recurring reason to walk out of mundane conversations with all the nostalgia of a high school reunion and a lifelong permit to relive the past.
More than Santa Claus, your sister knows when you've been bad and good.
A sister is at once both the knower and keeper of one's identity. The only person who defines your core, fundamental self and the only one, who by sheer weight of association by birth, knew you at your most undistorted.
They have in them the innate capacity to know your being minus its prejudices and outside influences and will always be the exception to the unanimous list of people that can be fooled by carefully perfected pretentions.
Better than a mother, they know the breakfasts cunningly unfinished , better than a teacher they know the homework missed and better than a husband, they know the emotions most deceptively innermost.
A sister is the friend you can sit on a porch with, never say a word, then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation that you ever had.
Sisters seldom need words. They have an easily constructed, mutually understood language of snarls and smirks and pokes and winks and frowns and sniffs that can undermine any tale being elsewhere told.
They can, without anything audible being said, make full comprehension of the meaning of each gleam, the message behind each smile and the depth of each sigh.
But sisters too, in their powerful numbers of twos and threes, are enough to make the riot of a thousand. With winding conversations on the unnecessary and raging laughter on the inane, they share a special kind of freedom: of being truly and simply, themselves.
I know some sisters who only see each other on Mother's Day, and some who will never speak again. But most are like my sister and me-linked by volatile love, best friends who make other best friends ever so slightly less best.
~ Patricia Volk
Sisters are not just best friends-they are best friends that you can't get rid of.
Through hell and high water, sisters are the ultimate confidantes-the ones turned to in the gravest of situations and the deepest of mistakes. The ones with whom you can bare your heart and make staggering confessions without fearing humiliation and irreparably scarred reputations. Because past the condemnations and reprimands, you know that they are joined to you for life; without so much as a choice about it.
Sure they fight a lot, but they are friends you are born to. Sure too, some days you love them and others you don't, but in the end, they're still the ones you run back to. Because unlike friends, best as they may be, sisters cannot choose to be or not to be.
The mildest, drowsiest sister has been known to turn tiger if her sibling is in trouble.
~ Clara Ortega
In this forever changing, highly volatile relationship, some things at least, promise to remain unchanged. That there is and will be someone who always needs you; who comes to you with scratched knees and broken hearts, tales of persecution and demands of allegiance pledges against perpetrators.
Sisters call on each other as defenders against the world at large, although they may nourish healthy personal rivalries and competitions among themselves. Telling and being told on, fighting and being fought against, misunderstanding and allowing to be misunderstood, hurting where it hurts.
Yet exempt of each other, they will defend against all comers.
I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.
By Subhi Shama Reehu
Photo: Zahedul I Khan
Models: Ruhani, Subhi, Sabrina, Sarah, Nazia and Samia