I have been through very trying moments in my life. We are all sisters and two years back, my youngest sister was diagnosed with multiple tumours. She had to undergo unbearable chemotherapy sessions and is still under regular monitoring. But luckily, (touch wood!) there is an ineffable bond that binds us together. I don’t know, other siblings might also feel the same. But if something happens to my sisters living in a far-off land, I always feel like it’s me who is in trouble.
I come from a Zamindar family. my grandfather, a lawyer by profession travelled to different places around the globe, as part of his work. This exposure motivated him to create a different set of modern yet traditional values for us. This modern outlook of my grandparents earned us the name ‘Angrez’. Such was my upbringing, that when I first moved to Delhi in 2001 from Allahabad, I never experienced any cultural shock.
My father had five daughters and my uncle had no children. People around us advised my father to marry us off quickly, but my family always gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted to. My father sent two of her daughters to study abroad. Since we came from a Zamindar family, we had bountiful land, multiple shops and havelis, but my father always reminded us, “See, all these properties will always be yours – but that’s what your grandparents have earned. You must also strive hard in your life to build things on your own.”
Being the eldest of all the siblings has always made me more mature. I had taken a loan for my sisters, (which I repaid just two years back) so that they could study in Oxford. I lived a very modest life then and people around me questioned me for that. I used an old Nokia phone and people were always perturbed at why I was living like that, in spite of earning well? I never felt like explaining to anyone.
I sometimes feel that I could’ve taken some decisions in my life, differently. In 2001, I had to take a decision to marry a man born and brought up completely in the US within three days. Being the eldest daughter, I felt like a moral responsibility to agree to it. I wish I would have said ‘no’.
I have seen both ecstatic and super depressing phases in my life and I have realized that life is made up of challenges. From the kind of places me and my siblings came from, to settling in different parts of the world; people perceive us as role models.