“Science Has Determined That Having A Sister Makes You A Better Person” – the headline reads.
I didn’t honestly know how I would react reading an article about science evidencing how, having a sister, could make a person better – morally, spiritually, whatsoever. Having an older sister myself, I could attest to how my life unfolded rather chaotically – making me, perhaps better, or more humane myself.
Years back, my sister was branded the black sheep of the family. A punk, she would curse at our parents and often cut her classes – all the time too absorbed, too out-of-this-world, and too confined in her own little space in the house, busying herself writing in her diary and reviewing the dog-eared pages of her song hits magazines.
We weren’t naturally close.
In fact, I have always hated her self-centeredness, and, as a young kid, I have always believed that she had always hated me, too. Whenever we would fight, she would always make it a point to use my undisclosed gayness as a weapon to bring fear out of me, so I would back out and let her win the round.
Because of her, I learned how to say bad words against my own parents, how to cut classes and not do my homeworks, and how to cocoon myself in my own little space – doing the same things she did. Back then, I thought having a sister is such indeed a sorry, crappy situation. I would often daydream about being our parents’ lone child, or having a different sister, someone better and kinder – just because it felt better that way.
In my high school years, our worlds separated even more.
She was already in college that time – busying herself drinking with friends, changing courses a couple of times. I knew then that she was already active in sex – but I kept silent – only for my own mother to find out herself that her very daughter already did it out of marriage.
Even though my sister was unloaded, my parents, being the traditionalists that they are, wanted to wed my sister to her then boyfriend. I felt a pang in my chest, knowing how my enemy of a sister would be separated from me yet again. She was slowly getting out of our family, and the thought of being alone scared me, for the first time.
The wedding did not happen.
My sister did not finish her studies, all the same, working on different jobs out of the small rustic province of Batangas – a saleslady, a burger joint crew, a part-time band singer. Whenever she would come home once a month, she would cram me with stories about how Manila changed her, how tall the buildings were or simply how beautiful Lucy Torres-Gomez was, when she saw her once at The Podium.
At this point, I was able t understand how my sister saw the world: She was just a kid, like me. We were just equals, all along. She didn’t know how to be a sister because she had the lens of a child – and I couldn’t blame her for that. It was difficult being put in the world and suddenly become somebody’s older brother or sister – somebody’s role model.
From that moment, we would both experience the same things in life.
I would follow her track – loving the people who didn’t love me back, rebelling against society, doing exactly what my parents hated, and questioning my own religion. I knew then, that I was not being “good” (whatever that word means) – just because I made the world my playground, or just because I was as curious as my sister. But I didn’t care, anyway.
Then on, I was able to understand that being good is not one-sided. It is not something acquired through decency, through meekness, through following what is deemed normal. It is an accumulation of black and gray and white – it is having an understanding about how others see the world or how they want the world to see them.
Right now, my sister works abroad – successful in life. A single mother to a beautiful boy, I believe that she is exactly the kind of sister that I needed. A tough one. A reckless one. A loveable one.
I would never exchange her for another one. Pinky swear.