The Rival Sibling
The Rival Sibling
It was like a dream come true for Uma when she got married to the handsome and noble gentleman - Swaminathan. Soon she was blessed with a beautiful daughter whom the couple named Padmini. After a couple of years, they welcomed their younger daughter Rukmini into their family. Both parents were extremely proud of their daughters who were equally bright and immensely talented. But the thing about her daughters that had touched Uma's heart was the boundless love that the siblings had for each other. When six - month- old Rukmini wailed on being vaccinated, it brought tears to Padmini's eyes as well as she could not stand the sight of sufferings of her younger sister. Rukmini, when she was three, refused to have lunch until her elder sister returned from school and no amount of provocations or threats could make her budge. When Rukmini accidentally broke Uma's favorite vase one day, Padmini took the blame on herself to shield Rukmini from mother's wrath.
When Rukmini was twelve, she met with an accident while returning from school on her bicycle and fractured her leg. She was suffering from a severe pain and no amount of pain-killers could relieve her. When Padmini came to know about it, she left her science examination halfway and ran to meet her sister. She placed Rukmini's head on her lap and sang a lullaby which made Rukmini forget about the pain and drifted to sleep. A couple of years later, Uma became seriously ill and was on death-throes. She called both the girls to her and placed their hands in each others.
"Be there for each other all through your lives," Uma said in a faint voice, "because in the end their won't be anyone else to take care of you other than the two of you." With these last words Uma bade farewell to the world.
A decade passed after Uma's death and Swaminathan decided to get his daughters married. A marriage proposal from an affluent businessman came Padmini's way while Rukmini readily accepted the proposal of a school teacher. A few days later, Swaminathan organised a reception to welcome both his son-in-laws to the family. Padmini who was clad in an expensive Kanchipuram saree and embellished with gold and diamonds became the center of attraction of the event. On the other hand, all the relatives looked upon Rukmini dressed in a plain cotton saree with sneer contempt. Padmini was on cloud nine as her relatives showered her generously with words of praise. She began to develop a strong feeling of repulsion towards Rukmini as she realized that Rukmini could never match her financial status. The mere sight of her younger sibling who was once the apple of her eyes, started evoking strong waves of disgust in her mind.
Rukmini was left aghast by the sudden change in the behavior of her ever loving elder sister. After some time, the shock gave way to vengeance and she decided to return Padmini in her own coins. She asked her husband to migrate to the city and start a business there. By the grace of God, he became one of the ace businessmen in the town within a few years. Swaminathan, who was absolutely unaware of the rivalry between the siblings; divided his property equally among the sisters and set out for pilgrimage. Hence, the sisters were forced to build homes close to each other on the ancestral land. As both the families could not stand the sight of each other they built a huge boundary wall in the middle of the plot.
As the time passed by, their children grew up, got married and left their nests. A few years later, their husbands died and both the old ladies were left to perish in the melancholy of solitude. One rainy night, a clap of thunder struck the boundary wall and made a huge crevice in it. The next morning, Padmini sat on her verandah watching puddles of water in her courtyard formed as an aftermath of yesterday's downfall. A sudden impulse made her fetch a piece of paper and make a boat of it. She made two little dolls with another piece of paper and placed them on the boat.
"Who are they?" A child's voice echoed in her ears.
"It's you and me." She heard her own voice of the times when she was a girl of six.
Her heart craved to meet Rukmini. She took a few steps towards Rukmini's house. But her stride halted midway as a picture of Rukmini flashed through her mind, glaring at her with venom of hatred pouring down her eyes like the torrential rains of monsoon. Padmini's gaze fell on the crevice in the wall and she found it rather safe to satisfy her wish by peeping stealthily through it. She stood on her toes and peeped to see Rukmini shivering on her bed near the window. Her feeble moans melted the iron walls of rancor in Padmini's heart which had been concealing the ocean of love for her sibling, all these years. Padmini ran to her and placed Rukmini's head on her lap. She sang the same age-old lullaby which made Rukmini forget all her maladies and drift peacefully to sleep as ever.