Sister, Sister

A few days ago, as my sister Fatema and I were walking back to the lab after lunch, a lady stopped us right in the lobby of the Perelman Center and just asked “Twins?” We smiled and said “Yes.” “Y’all are beautiful,” she responded, before continuing on her way, which was very sweet. We’ll never know why she was so interested–perhaps she is a twin herself. Perhaps she is the mother or sister of twins. Or perhaps she simply happened to notice us and was fascinated by our remarkable resemblance (we are not identical, but many people think we are). It’s definitely not the first time this has happened, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but in honor of our twentieth birthday (!) a few weeks ago, I am writing tonight about being a twin.

We decided to make the entire weekend a celebration, and had a lovely weekend at home with our family. The occasion called for my mother’s biryani, chocolate mousse cake from 33 East…and watching some baby videos. My favorite video is one in which Fatema and I are being really hyper in her room. It’s probably about 9 pm and we should be getting ready for bed but instead Fatema is doing somersaults with her beloved stuffed polar bear and I am really interested in my Dad’s camera. Giggle fits, shrieks, belly laughs, and two little girls running around the room in footie pajamas. What I love about the video is that so much has stayed the same. My sister is still the more active of the two of us. She might just start doing crunches in a spare fifteen minutes instead of somersaults. Late night chats happen regularly (minus the footie pajamas) and giggle fits can occur at any time of day (our good friends can confirm that!) She is the person who can make me laugh the most. Even though she is only five minutes older than me I still look up to her and learn from her.

People often ask if we fight a lot. I really hate this question. First of all, I would never think to ask it. Secondly, it always asked with a smirk or this sense of intense curiosity that makes me feel very uncomfortable, as though the person would take great pleasure in watching my sister and I argue. It’s not fair because I’m too honest to say “no” although that is probably the best answer. We have a really wonderful relationship, but no one likes everyone 100% of the time, especially someone with whom you spend almost all of your waking hours.Think about it: The people you are closest to and love the most are also the ones that you are more likely to “fight” with. You care about them. You care about the things they say. Knowing someone well also means you have the power to hurt them, and all power is inevitably abused at some point. So when someone asks me this (and especially if I’m in sassy mood, which is more often than not) I will respond “Well, do you and your siblings ever get annoyed with each other?” in an effort to shut them up.

As much as I love being a twin, and embrace the “sharing” aspects that are included, being constantly lumped with another person gets old. It’s not cute when you are the one being lumped. FatemaandFarida, FaridaandFatema. It’s hard, because we don’t make it easier to for people to differentiate between us by finishing each other’s sentences, having similar interests, referring to ourselves as “we”, and ordering the same food all the time (seriously. Except when she eats like a vegetarian).  If you don’t recognize me as an individual, how can I get to know you? Ultimately, we are two individuals, and when someone doesn’t make an effort to tell us apart, or think it is cool to call us “the twins” it makes it difficult to be close to that person. Only big sisters get to do that.

It may seem to some people that we just can’t escape each other. Our colleges are two miles apart, and even in college we know the same people and have some classes together. This summer, we not only worked in the same lab, but in adjacent bays. I could peek through the shelves and see her hard at work isolating platelets. Honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Partner in crime, partner in gym class, partner in bio lab. Movie date. Party date. Company for the car ride home. It’s pretty sweet and I appreciate it more and more every day.

3 thoughts on “Sister, Sister

  1. Loved this post Farida. BTW I think other than big sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents are allowed, on occasion, to also call you “the twins” – with great affection and because we remember you both when you were still only known as Twin A and Twin B and we just could not wait to meet you. And we still remember vividly when you were those giggly, footie pajama girls. (In fact, I remember one very serious discussion in my car as you both discussed exactly which pair of footie pajamas you each planned to wear that night!) It’s been such a pleasure to watch you both grow up into two beautiful young women (who are both worshipped by their little cousins). Love you!

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