Thursday, May 19, 2011

So, you must be the elder sister...

When you and your sister are just a couple of years apart, it is a fairly normal occurrence for a person you have just met to incorrectly figure out who the elder sibling is. Especially, if you, like me, are taller as well as more broadly built (and I admit, weightier) than your elder sibling.

So, from the time I overtook my sis w.r.t height, I have heard my fair share of "Oh, you must be the elder sibling." Hearing it once was annoying enough but some of the strangers persisted with "Oh, but I thought you are the elder sibling. Aren't you?" even after I had corrected them the first time. Ooooh, you caught me! I am one of those weird people who pretend to be the younger sibling when they are not! Grr.

I know it shouldn't have irritated me so much. Especially since my sister, knowing how it grated on me, never took these insults (according to me) as an opportunity to tease me and instead was quite sweet about it. Besides, people thinking you look older than you are is quite low on the list of life's tragedies. Still, it rankled every time it happened.

With time, I reconciled myself to grinning at every wedding or family function or lots-of-strangers occasion I went to with my sis when I was greeted with "Oh, you must be P's (my mom) elder daughter" even as I inwardly ground my teeth. For, you see, I always translated this innocuous remark to mean "You look like the old woman of the mountains".

Then, yesterday, at a family party, a clueless relative by marriage stopped by, looked at me and my sis and exclaimed, "Oh, you must be P's daughters." Looking at me, she said, "I remember you." Then, turning to my sis she said, "I don't remember you though. You must be the younger sister who lives in the US." Sis pointed to me and mildly said,"No, that's her. She used to live in the US but moved back. I live in Mumbai."

Clueless lady could not get a clue still. Ignoring me completely, she continued enthusiastically talking to my sis, "Oh, you are from Mumbai? No wonder. You have that Mumbai look.", meaning it as a compliment. Evidently, according to Clueless, not only did I look older, I also looked like some fresh-off the bullock-cart villager. Gee thanks!

Obviously, I was annoyed. That was not the surprising thing. The surprising thing was, after a couple of minutes of bristling, I thought about it. a) I had no idea who Clueless was. b) There was no reason why what she thought about me needed to affect me at all. c) I thought I looked fine. d) Life is too short to be wasted over clueless people.

Two minutes after this introspection, I forgot all about the incident(till now) and totally enjoyed the rest of the party.

I tell you, this is the best part about growing older. Things which seemed like tragedies even a few years ago, no longer bother me much. The older I grow, the more secure and confident I am getting about myself and the less I base my worth on what others think of me. Especially when these others constitute people who have little or no role to play in my day-to-day life.

I must say, life's good :-)!

p.s. For heaven's sake though, if you meet siblings, wait for them to bring up the topic themselves instead of playing the "Are you the older one?" guessing game. Being mistaken for the older sibling is a pet peeve of many younger siblings I know!


Sumana said...

Loved your thought. You bought out life's important lesson in such immaculate way. "The older I grow, the more secure and confident I am getting about myself and the less I base my worth on what others think of me. Especially when these others constitute people who have little or no role to play in my day-to-day life. "
Next time may be you should just say it out that you are the younger of the two before you see any clueless people like the ones mentioned in your post. LOL at the bullock cart villager and the Mumbai look.

usha said...

Interesting narrative. I too had been in these situations though in my early teens I took it as a complement(!!). The stages of getting annoyed followed by pretending 'not having time for others' judgement' and then the realisation that life's too short to waste on these etc came about.
The last point on waiting instead of asking 'Are you the older sibling?' is superb. I totally agree with you.

Archana said...

Love your post! It echoes my thoughts!:)

Lepus Townsendi said...

"Especially when these others constitute people who have little or no role to play in my day-to-day life"

These words have to engraved in stone...Very true

Anonymous said...

My younger sister has looked older ever since I remember, but I thought that was a compliment specially when we were younger, and as we grew older we even joked about being each other because although we have five inches of height difference, we have been mistaken for each other. (People don't really look I feel)

A lot of our reactions are based, not on the happening, but on our opinion of what's happening.

Sanjana said...


My sis used to face the same problem. I say "used to" cos over the past couple of years, it has become highly evident that she is indeed the younger one (shaving one's head and having a labret kinda helps with that thought process!)

Plus, there IS a 7 yr age gap, and now I actually do look older than her! :)

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Sujatha Sathya said...

abso loved this the way ur writing is smooth & flows naturally

Silhouette said...

You have a very entertaining style of writing, Archana. Thanks for putting this up.

Archana said...

Sumana - thank you!

Usha - they should make that the universal rule!

Archana - younger sibling, na, that's why!

Lepus Townsendi - yes, I know!

IHM - The last line you have said is so true.

Sanjana - LOL. Though shaving head little extreme for me :-).

Pratap - will check out sometime.

Sujatha - thank you :-).

Silhouette - thank you :-).

Anonymous said...

Oh that happened to me MANY times and I feel so sad because I'm certainly not taller than her but people still thinks I'm older and unlike your sister, my elder sister LOVES to rub it in by repeating it over and over again to me, making me feel as if I look really old. Yeah I might have wrinkles and dark circles that make me look old but the least she could do was to NOT tease me about it. Its infuriating. But I'll try to take your advice on not wasting time for this nonsense and just let it go then.