I wasn’t a bright child. I would solve problems using the most idiotic methods. Once my sister, Ajooni, and I were playing catch with two neighborhood kids. To shield us from the summer sun we played under a plum tree in our backyard. I accidentally threw the ball a little too roughly, and landed it in a tangle of tree branches. I simply stared at our captured ball above me for a few moments while my genius eight-year-old mind tried to find a solution to our problem. Suddenly I remembered we kept a long coil of yellow rope in our garage that had a large, blunt hook attached at the end. I ran to the garage, quickly retrieved the rope and hook and ran back. My plan was this: I would swing the rope in a vertical lasso-like fashion and when I felt that the hook had gained enough velocity, I would pitch the metal lump into the bundle of branches and hope that this would cause the ball to be pushed out of the tree. However, I never was able to find out if my plan would succeed as during the hook’s second swing I heard a dull thud and high pitched shriek behind me. I do not recall great surges of blood from the wound, but I do remember the sickening sound as the hook came into contact with the base of my sister’s eye with a firm thud as the metal hit skin and bone. My heart plopped into my stomach as I turned around slowly to find Ajooni doubled over; covering her left eye with her hands. My parents appeared almost immediately because of my sister’s high-pitched squeals, carting all of us into the car and to the emergency room. My father, who usually drives ten miles below speed limit, sped at a reckless twenty miles above the recommended thirty-five miles per hour.
You must login to vote
“We have to go home now,” Our two friends would chant in sing song voices, as if they hadn’t even noticed my sister seated right next to them, screaming and moaning in agony.
“Will you two be quiet?!” My mother shouted at the kids in the back, “No one is going anywhere until we find out if Ajooni is blind or not!” She was never a very optimistic person. When our dog was missing, my mother kept shouting, “He’s dead, I’m sure of it! He’s dead!” Ajooni was crying then as well.
As soon as we entered the emergency room, Ajooni was rushed into “surgery,” where a man in his middle-forties spoke calmly to my sobbing sister and quivering parents, explaining that stitches would be necessary. I continued to help Ajooni by wincing and groaning in pain with her as the doctor stitched up the wound under her eye. Before we left the doctor said to me in confidence that I had done something very dangerous; if I had hit my sister a sixteenth of an inch higher she would have been blind in her left eye. I realize now the horrible pain and danger I put my sister through, but all I could think of at that moment was, “cool.”
Ajooni and I were always injuring each other in one way or another; we were normal siblings in that manner. I would counteract my sister’s attempt to stab me in the calf with a freshly sharpened pencil by throwing her favorite stuffed animal in the toilet. She got back at me by slicing my toy unicorn’s throat and I am still plotting revenge today. Soon our dreams to defeat one another simmered out into common neutrality and tolerance of one another in the household. We can insult and cuss at each other without restraint, not feeling the sharp whip of the words; we have lived together so long, there is more of an acceptance of the jibes and insults we throw at each other than a hatred. Yet this odd understanding was not our immediate reaction long ago; when Ajooni and I were young, we were horrible. Our lives consisted of eating, sleeping, playing, and ruining each other’s lives. The point wasn’t to help ourselves; the point was to inflict injury and humiliation on the other person, even if that was at some expense of our own; as long as the other’s pain was greater than ours, anything was fair game.
We would sometimes go out of our way trying to annoy each other to tears. Either by not moving out of a person’s way in the hall or eating their leftovers from a favorite restaurant and then claiming to having never seen the obvious disclaimer on the Styrofoam box; we would drive each other mad.
I don’t think it ever occurred to us to call a truce and live in a somewhat peaceful environment. We were too proud to give in, each finding our self to be the winner of each battle. Belittling each other in our parents’ eyes was a huge competition. When one of us had performed an act that was forbidden or shameful to our parents, the other was quick to point it out to our mother and father. Usually the crime was eating off-limit sweets or cussing. We would pick dinner time usually, so the guilty party would be present to hear our accusations. The tattletale would watch with glee as our parents would stare at them mercilessly with grim, tired faces while the unlucky child would bow her head down shamefully at her plate, pushing her fork against the rice and chicken.
Ridicule was easy with such a strong genetic tie because there was no real way for our connection to be completely severed. Still, some sense of sisterhood was able to survive at times: my parents, realizing we hated to go to church, would try and sneak up on us and tell us a few minutes beforehand that we were leaving. Most children are greedy and malevolent and will not realize how much they were given until much later if at all. Ajooni and I did not feel any need or urge to bow down and thank God for our lives and good home, and we certainly did not want to spend a perfectly good Sunday afternoon doing so. Usually our plans for escape were simple and well rehearsed, most of the time one of us was very, very “sick.”
“Ajooni, they’re taking us.”
“In half an hour you are going to complain of slight pains, then twenty minutes later, say you puked.”
“Isn’t it your turn to be sick?”
“I bought you your movie ticket last weekend; you owe me.”
“Fine, should it just be stomach pains?”
“Add cold chills and a headache just in case.”
We would be vomiting in the toilet when no one was looking and brushing our teeth afterward claiming to get rid of the taste. Our parents hated the dilemma we put them in: they could give in and leave us at home to enjoy ourselves, or they could take us to church and risk being looked at as horribly negligent and cruel parents as we constantly interrupted the ceremony with lung rattling coughs. Most of the time we were successful, and after the victory we would return to neutral ground. If our parents were feeling especially vindictive they would drag us out the door while we screamed in pain, declaring our highly communicable diseases with acted sniffles, groans, and tears, as if our bodies had been infected with Ebola. We would sit there miserably, glancing at each other, understanding the other’s pain and being sympathetic.
Those constant wars and short peace times raged on till some years back when our family changed forever, when my sister and I were finally bestowed a Nintendo 64. Ajooni and I were thrilled, and we proved our devotion by playing endlessly throughout lazy afternoons and late weekend nights. While our parents slept above we would sneak to the basement to help Mario save the princess or join forces with Donkey Kong to defeat King K. Rool. Slowly, like an evolution, we began to come together. Petty fights lessened little by little, from screaming death threats at each other about which channel to watch or who deserved the front seat in the car, we began to give simple growls or tiny frowns to show we protested but did not challenge. Finally there was a simple shrug to claim we didn’t have to have our way always.
Perhaps it was because of the partnership we had to display within the adventurous games. Through trusting one another to finally reach the key to the secret castle or helping our partner cross the pit of lava, we began to respect one another. We started discussing problems with each other; about school, boys and life, while jumping through jungles and swimming through seas.
“Sehaj, do you remember Scott?”
“Give me a description.”
“Shiny blond hair, sparkling blue eyes, great smile…”
“Was he on the cover of People?”
“No! He’s in my class; you met him when you came to Egyptian Night at school.”
“Wasn’t he the one wearing make-up?”
“Well, yeah, but that was for his role.”
“Was he a cross-dressing Pharaoh?”
“No, he just needed mascara around his eyes for the hieroglyphic look.”
“The boy was wearing lipstick, I remember.”
“We’re getting off the subject. I think I like him, and he likes me, but my best friend also likes him. What should I do?”
Maybe Ajooni and I were actually growing in some manner; we were looking at each other’s eyes and saw within the pupils another human with a fully functioning mind, complete with emotions and substantial mental capacity. Maturity seemed to creep up with our passing years; our horizons broadened and became more understanding and accepting. The need to label leftovers with such austerity that even parents side stepped the cartons drifted away. Ajooni took the blame for my spilled milk in the living room, and in turn I proofread her essay and even complimented her on sentence structure.
The day after I almost blinded my sister, I went into my room to find my favorite book lying on the bed with its ripped out pages scattered everywhere. Half an hour later I could hear my sister's screams and realized she must have found her favorite stuffed animal swimming in the toilet. Then Sunday came,
"It's your turn."
And we were sisters again.