My Nepali Sisters
“Sisters, they’re always there for you”
I am one of three children in my family; I have two brothers and I am the only girl. My whole life I have always wanted a sister. Yeah, brothers are great but, they just aren’t the same as sisters. Until my trip to Nepal, I was never truly aware of what I was entirely missing out on by not having a sister. In both of my Nepal home-stays I have had 2 younger sisters, 1 older sister and no brothers (which is very different from what I’m used to). In both families as soon as I met my new sisters, they welcomed me with open arms to their homes. My younger sisters would always stick to my side and play little jokes on me occasionally. They seemed almost as excited as I was about having new sisters. My sisters always include me in what they are doing and whenever we are just sitting or walking around, they will connect with me somehow; whether its holding onto my hand, wrist or arm, or leaning up against me as we play a game at home. I’ve had some nights when we would just sit and talk for hours, sharing countless laughs together. Sometimes my sisters would completely surprise me; for example, during my Kathmandu home-stay one of my sisters who is 13, sat me down, grabbed my left hand and wouldn’t let me stand up until she painted all 5 of my nails on my left hand. And another time, I was running out the door so I wouldn’t be late for breakfast at the program house and my sister pops into my room and asks if I can braid her hair like I did the other night. There was no way I was going to say no because when else would I have a sister ask me this question. Both of those times, I really felt like an older sister helping and eventually teaching/guiding my little sisters.
One of the many amazing things about Kathmandu and just Nepal in general is how everyone seems to look out for each other and everyone is ‘family’. When you talk to a stranger, you address them as older or younger brother or sister. So, people will call me Didi (older sister) or Biani (younger sister) which I feel immediately creates a closer connection with a person you don’t even know (plus it is super convenient calling everyone your sibling if you have trouble remembering names.) When I’m traveling on micro buses, I find myself being welcomed with similes by women to sit down next to them as they all squeeze toether to make room for me to ‘fit’. Sometimes I will even just be handed someone’s child if there is no space for them to sit on the micro.
I feel like in Nepal, there is an understood unity and a closeness between women and girls that you don’t get to see around that often. I personally feel that since being here, I have a much better understanding of what being a sister feels like. Yesterday, my younger sister brought me to her window to show me her shoe on the neighbors roof…apparently our youngest sister thought it was a good idea to throw her sisters shoe out the window for no apparent reason. I know that having a sister (or brother) isn’t always so easy and fun, and that it can sometimes get a little tough. But, I think that maybe the perfect combination of the good times and the tough times are what having a sister is all about.