Explaining the dynamics of my family has always been, trying shall we say. I never really understood why people were so hell-bent on defining what family is, or why they were so consumed with appropriating labels. But as I matured, I realized that for the purpose of convenience, using conventional terms to explain my family made it easier for them to understand it. But why care in the first place right? What did it matter what others thought? Well it wasn’t about that at all, it was about prying open narrow minds and showing others that the definition of family is so much more than a description in the Oxford dictionary, or a piece of law. It’s what you make it, and my family exemplifies how a mosaic of lives come together to form a beautifully diverse family unit. We may live in different corners of the world, share different parents, share no parents at all, it doesn’t matter, there’s only love, and for me, that is family.
For the last twenty-five years of my life, I have been a big sister. And if you have younger siblings, you recognize the weight of what it means to be the older sibling. My little brother made it easy for me. He was a blast. Brilliant, bright-eyed, wickedly comedic, my partner in crime. Though we share only one parent, we knew no different. He was nothing less than my brother and I was nothing less than his sister. It stands true to this day, and it’s a fact that will never change. Blood doesn’t need to be thicker than water, because love is.
I never knew my biological father. I had a few details that my mother had told me about him, and that was about it. Interestingly, I never really had much interest in seeking him out. My mother’s love prevailed, and the two men that came into my life who took on the role of dad and step-dad loved, and supported me enough, there was no fatherly void. However, what I did feel was missing, was a link to a part of my past that was a spotty abyss. My biological father had two children before I was born. Boys. I’ve known about them for most of my life, but didn’t know where they were. After nearly three decades of wondering, I found them!
In the span of a week, I learned that I was the little sister to a thirty-six year old primary school teacher, Ramman, and an extremely hardworking father of two, my thirty-four year old brother Drisan. That’s right, I’m also an auntie! After being separated for thirty years, two men who knew nothing of a sister until a week ago, have welcomed me with open arms into their lives. And almost in an instance, I’ve become a part of yet another family. Family. How fabulous is it that your family can extend by an armful of members over night?
So how do you catch up on thirty years of life? One blissful moment at a time. Late night Facebook chats and lengthy emails have become a regular occurrence in my life. Answers to questions like “what’s your favourite colour?” or “what kind of foods do like?” are no longer mundane, but overnight, become interesting facts that serve to piece together a Rubiks cube I’ve long been desperate to solve. Life is so deliciously complicated isn’t it? Complicated and enriching. Words escape me when I try to explain to the few I’ve told, about how much joy I feel to have found them. I say it’s sort of like that first gulp of air you take after you’ve been submerged under water for sometime. Dizzying, euphoric even. A new chapter in my life has begun, before I’ve even had the chance to turn the page. But that’s what life is all about right? It’s a labyrinth of unexpected trials and triumphs. Being a sister, can be the greatest gift, but being a sister to three strong, beautiful human beings is more than a gift, it’s a privilege.