Tuesday, August 18, 2009

True Colours

I have acquired a new and profound respect for my elder sister. I see her in a very different light or more to the point from a very new perspective and it has sown in me a a deep admiration for ‘me nua panyin.’

As I have mentioned earlier, my sister and I had a rocky relationship until only very recently. Much of the friction and angst of this relationship was because we are just very dissimilar. Our positions on most issues are so different that some abrasion is almost inevitable. The maturity that comes with age, childbirth and sojourning has led to a softening on both sides and a friendship that I must confess is nice to have.

Yesterday I attended a traditional wedding. The second child was getting married and the first who is older than my sister is single. There seemed to be great esteem for Esi that she could so celebrate Ewurekua’s good fortune when she herself remained unmarried at the dangerous age of 34. There was also unspoken consolation. The weight of that pity was palpable and I admired Nana Esi greatly for being able to keep her smile sincere the entire ceremony. Even I was smoldering under the pressure of it. Someone actually said to her that if her sister had children and she didn’t, it didn’t matter. Her sister’s children were hers too.

My wedding and the days preceding it came to mind. Many times someone who had just been informed I was to marry would accuse me of jumping the queue. Someone even asked my father in surprise ‘ah, Kwaku you are allowing this? The first born hasn’t married yet. How can the second born do that?’ All of us were miffed by such stupid comments. My father came up with many a sarcastic gem in response to these statements.

Later my sisters and I would discuss this or that person’s idiocy, talking like that. Never once did I, through in my wedding prep haze, see, even sense, the pressure that pity/outrage put on her. I didn’t feel it. It disappoints me that I didn’t for I am usually quite perceptive. I didn’t get even a whiff of it then. But I certainly felt it yesterday.

I wonder how Nana truly felt when she had to tell others of my marriage. It is to her eternal credit that all my memories of her in that period were of her happiness and excitement at my blessing. And she worked hard to help make the day special. I wish I had had the wisdom to see clearly exactly the magnitude of the gift she had given me. I would have been more appreciative.

When her reticence would have been most understandable, there was none. I do not know how she felt. Maybe she was just mildly irritated by the comments, maybe deeply so. Maybe she wept inside or maybe she was dismissive of them as they deserve. I thank her for not letting that mar my occasion. I wish I had been sensitive enough to be more than just irked.

It is amazing the clarity of your vision when the scales fall off. Many years we fought over the most trifling of things; who put what where, whose fault what was and who wasn’t being nice. It is ironic indeed and a rousing ovation to her that I should learn so great a lesson on magnanimity of spirit from my sister with whom I have had the most self-centred disagreements. Nana mbo! Both for the spirit and for the lesson, me da ase pii


AB said...

I usually love your posts, Mammie, but this one - on first read - rubbed me the wrong way somewhat. It seems what you're going for is a tone of empathy and admiration for your big sister, but what comes across (in certain choice phrases, such as "maybe she wept inside") is pity and, dare I say it, condescension. Perhaps Nana sees it differently? I'm a "big sister" myself, and while I will not now know what it is like to be in that particular situation, I think if my younger sister had gotten married before me, at a time when I myself had not been able to find a match that I thought worth making, it would not have affected me all that much. The major source of annoyance, of course, would have been others' reactions, but I myself would have been happy to celebrate her good fortune and leave it at that. After all, marriage is not to be entered in hastily, and it would not do to be desperately casting about for a partner merely in order to assert one's rightful place in the line. But I digress. I just wanted to say that perhaps "how Nana truly felt" was never at odds with "her happiness and excitement at [your] blessing". It is entirely possible that she knows her life to be worthy and complete and fulfilling through her accomplishments in other areas, without having to fret over what others may make of her not having a husband and children when her younger sister does. But I'm not her, so this is just my 2 cents. Whatever the case, she is indeed to be commended for not reducing herself to the level of those who would talk and point fingers.

Paa Kwesi said...

You're def very fortunate to have Nana A as your big sis. She's one of the very few people I realized is 'good'--the kind that inspires you to be a better person yourself. I still occasionally go through some of our old correspondence to remind myself.

Strong women have been very influential in my life and she's def one of them! Even better for you she's fie nyimpa!

ohemaa said...

@AB, i am a big sis myself and my younger sister got married before i did. Infact she had 2 kids before i had one. That said, i really appreciated Mammie's blog, coz i know exactly how the big sis might have felt. the issue is that no matter how self assured you are, some bad comment can catch you at a bad time and throw you into self doubt. it cud even make you wonder if some of them cud be true, even though you have always known them not to be. the greatest gift a younger sister can give to the older one in this instance and our Ghanaian community is respect and appreciation, trust me the reverse hurts more than any comments others may carelessly make!