Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Tale of Two Sisters

Once upon a time there were two sisters. They had many other siblings but this tale is about the two sisters, so let’s be happy and forget about the other children their parents procreated.

So we have these two sisters, one elder, the other younger. (Obviously, because no mother can give birth to twins at exactly the same time. But wait what about those born via a Caesarean? What is the extracting procedure for twins? Does the doctor just pull out the first baby he sees? How do they decide who is older?)

Okay, so we have two sisters. In fact, if it was a hundred years earlier they would be princesses. Because their mother was a princess, a very beautiful one with skin the colour of ivory and hair like finely spun spider’s web. Our two sisters grew up as ordinary people, and worked ordinary jobs. The elder one married and became a housewife. Her husband was a relatively successful businessman, and they built a house at one of the best locations in town. They were quite well off, and when television arrived in Mizoram they were among the first to get one. I remember their house used to be very crowded, with the whole locality coming to watch any program that was showing. My mother often talked about watching the ’82 World Cup at their place, at a time when Rossi and Zico ruled the football world.

The younger sister got a government job, and was always posted in some far-off town. She bore three children, two boys followed by a girl, but never got married. The girl was slightly older than me, and was great friends with me and my sister. Because of her mother’s job she was always in one boarding school or the other, and we used to write each other, in English, and we thought ourselves very sophisticated because we wrote in English, even though it was never anything more than “How are you I am fine School is fine”.

Fortune didn’t smile on the elder sister, and she and her husband didn’t have any children. So they adopted (informally) the eldest son of the younger sister. They were very good to us (my siblings and I) too. We lived in adjacent houses, and she would, until this day, talk about the days when I was so small I couldn’t cross a small drain that was between our two houses, a drain whose width was no more than a few centimetres.

So the eldest boy lived with his aunt and uncle, and they spoiled him rotten. Gave him whatever he wanted. He had a happy childhood. Then he grew up, and he started mixing with rich boys and developed bad habits. It was the late 80s, and the rich kids had discovered drugs. Our boy too got trapped, badly, and it was very sad to see him decline like that. How his parents must have suffered!

One fine day he brought a wife home. She too was from the rich crowd, a girl who had never worked in her life. His parents were very happy, maybe they were secretly hoping he would mend his ways and settle down. They spoiled the wife, never let her lift a finger and never allowed her to do anything in the house.

Time went on, grandchildren came, everyone became old, and one day the elder sister’s husband died. Everything changed after that. The daughter-in-law declared herself the head of the house, and started treating her mother-in-law like a servant. Well, servant is too strong a word, let’s just say she was barely civil to her. The poor husband never said a word, because his wife was that kind of woman you don’t argue with.

Our elder sister, now almost 80, cooks and washes the dishes every day. Sometimes she would eat after everyone else. Poor thing, she had nowhere to go, and the person she called her son was too scared of his wife to come to her rescue. At an age when she should be enjoying the waning years of her life with grandchildren around her, she spends her days feeling like an unwanted person, an uninvited guest.

The other day my sister went to her house. It seemed she walked into a family argument, and it was very uncomfortable, so she told me. Sis walked in just in time to hear Elder Sister say she wouldn’t allow her bed to be dismantled / removed because it was the bed in which their grandfather had slept. Turned out the family had converted her room into a TV room and she had to sleep in another room.

I feel so disappointed with the human race when I hear things like this. True, no one is perfect and we all have faults and failings and eccentricities, but isn’t respect to elders something we’ve been taught all our life? In fact, it’s something that our common sense, our conscience should be telling us, without anyone having to drum it into our heads.

I don’t know how this story will end. And it is unlikely that a Sydney Carton will come to the elder sister’s rescue. I wish and pray for better happier days for her for the rest of her life.


  1. Such a sad story.....I believe many families are out there just like them. :sniff:

  2. Great, it reminds me of Baghban of Bollywood! So true yet... it happenned and will be so with us it seems :(

  3. Joseph - It's even sadder in real life when you see an 80 year old woman feeling like an outcast in her own home.

    HV - A tak tak a nih hi.

    VaiVa - Like Joseph said up there, there are many families like this, old people unwelcome in their home but having nowhere to go, spending the last years of their lives in misery.

  4. Ka hman tak tak hunah dictionary nen ka lo chhiar ang..haha.

  5. Tsk tsk tsk, but I'd say Elder Sister goofed bigtime by spoiling the boy rotten from childhood. Indulging kids (or anyone, for that matter) is a major mistake and in the end, it often rebounds horrendously.

  6. TS - Hman ni reng i nei dawn lo!

    J - Yes Elder Sister spoiled the boy, no denying that. But that is exactly why he should take super extra good care of her when she is now old and frail. I think one of the reasons people have children is so they will have someone to look after them in their old age, and no doubt Elder Sis would have dreamed of a day when she could relax and be pampered by her son and grandchildren, a day which sadly never comes.

  7. :( Sad. such a tragic story. I had contemplated on the idea that there could be families like this in our society, but i have never heard a first-hand account of such stories until this one. One of my dreams that i share with my mom is to one day open an old-age home so that old people can escape the traumatic atmospheres of their own homes.

  8. Taking up on what Jayme said, I too think its very important to have a good old-age home. No matter how good they are treated, the generation gap and the dissimilarity in lifestyle can make old people feel very isolated, especially if they have lost their spouses and they can no longer meet with their contemporaries as often.

    Sad story here. When I see old, bent women carrying heavy "em"s and baskets and selling vegs or "theiden", i can't help but wonder if they have kids and what their kids are doing.

  9. jay-me and kuku - An old age home is a very good idea, a place where senior citizens can live with folks their own age and still be in touch with their families without having to try to cope with the confusing new world. But in a society like ours I think it will take some time for it to materialise because no family will allow their grandparents or elder relatives to live in one. Imagine the whispers and the gossip that would follow! But if I were old with no one to take care of me I would much prefer living in an old age home. Maybe you two should open one so I could come live there when I'm old and gray and alone :P

  10. A thawnthu tlangpui ka hrethiam ta ruak e! Hman leh deuh hunah chhiar leh ang!!A thawnthu tlangpui ka hrethiam ta ruak e! Hman leh deuh hunah chhiar leh ang!!

  11. 'I nu chu a lo tarin hmusit suh tih kha thufingah khan a awmin ka hria. Mahni nu leh pate hmusita tiduhdahtute hi chu an hmuingil thei hian ka ring lo.

    Kan thenawm lawkah hian pitar kum 90 mi vel hi a awma, (tunah chuan an insawn tawh, nikum khan a pasal a sun) a tu ten an vaw thin niin mipakhat chuan min hrilh. Ka lainat khawp mai :-(

  12. Tsk, tsk, tsk... such a tragic tale...I'm sure there would come a time when old age home will be 'in' even in our society. After all, times change and along with it our mindsets! I've even heard of our local YMA hiring manual workers to dig up graves in advance....

  13. Ekhai aw.. Mittui a tla mai dawn 'lawm le.. A lungrun kher mai.

  14. ka hnuk a ul!!!! Damn! mahse a fapa a chhuan awm lo nih hi. He's not man enough.. van pawi thin mange.. I'm so sorry i've read this!

  15. Mizohican - It really is a tragic thing :(

    triplestar - In thenawm pitar chu a khawngaihthlak hle mai. Kum 90 dam hi an tam loh tehreng nen a tu te pawh chu an mawl khawp mai, an khawngaihthlak zawk.

    Maisek - Yes with the changing of the times people have become busier and more self centred and pretty soon many people would not want to "waste" their time babysitting their elders. Old age homes are not far off, I agree.

    TS Khupchong - Lo tap bawrh bawrh rawh.

    mnowluck - Ni e mahni nu te pawh tan ngam lo leh duat nachang hre lo hi chu... not man at all. Please remember her in your prayers, that she has a better life.

  16. How sad! And yes even sadder to think there must be so many more of incidents like this. Old age homes are okay, maybe even a really good idea...but they just make me sad. To think of my own self living in an old age home someday, to think of either of my parents in an old age's just too sad to contemplate. I just came back from Goa and on the way to my hotel there is this old age home, some St Joseph's home for the aged or something and unfortunately I had to pass this place often. And there I would be laughing having fun and suddenly I see the building and a cloud of depressive sadness would settle on me. And to think that it's not just the alcoholics and druggies, that even seemingly nice, 'religious' people do it too...

  17. Ka bo lutuk. Vocabulary lamah turu hle mai... Tha ka ti e.

  18. Jerusha - I think I would prefer to live in an old age home with folks my age rather than live with youngsters whose lifestyle I don't understand at all and for whom I am a nuisance, a burden. God forbid that situation should arise, but just in case....

    Krista - I lo chhiar a ka lawm e.