No, we don't lock horns. In fact, I'm just too happy to get rid of them for a week, two weeks, two months, two years - whatever my sister Jackie chooses. Yes, she tells me but she adds so many destinations to her itinerary that by the time I finally grasp it, she is eager to get back to her original place. I tell her be like the Indians, ring the bell or better just walk in because you happened to be in the neighborhood. She does not believe in traveling light. Her visit means countless bags and suitcases and more bags and suitcases. I won't be surprised if some day I saw a house parked outside just as an after thought to the bags and my sister's arrival. My mind goes into an endless debate of Nurture vs Nature. I quickly move from horror to resignation and then quietly slink into a state of discombobulation.
How could my sister be so different from me? Did we not grow up in the same household? Did we not eat the same foods and breathe the same air? She leaves nothing to chance. There is no concept of let it be. She is akin to the shark. If she doesn't keep moving she might dissipate. I believe in doing nothing. What I am trying to figure out is how did she develop this love of the kitchen and cooking? I follow the police advice when they get a distress call - avoid the kitchen; it has lethal weapons. For me, the place is dangerous as well till my sister arrives. She attacks it, reduces it to mush, readies it for consumption. I hear my husband and children sigh with relief. I also detect loud rumblings of awe from them. No more will they starve. I sigh.
Jackie knows exactly what she's doing. The kitchen knows it too. It better do. If it were not my home she were visiting, I would be forbidden from it too. Somehow Jackie condescends to let me linger there, just near the sink, just within reach to pass her the ingredients so she can whip up the magic. I am just a souffle or as the French put it Sous Chef. Those French need their own script. Anyway, between loads of heavenly aromas, stories are exchanged, tears are shed; Jackie has a tendency to dissolve into real and imagined childhood tales of having been mistreated - by her sibling, her aunts and uncles, nuns, the world in general. After we go over the mistreatment and cruelty, she regretfully takes off a few from the list. Her husband gets worried, the dark mood may shift to the kitchen and he may collapse with hunger or inattention.
It's a good time. For brief moments I am no longer in charge; I like it. I feel the same when my Mum is around; something tells Jackie and my Mum there is a desperate need for them in the kitchen and elsewhere. They are survivors and they see the miserable lot around them survive as well. Heaven forbid if on their watch, anyone decides to take a break from surviving! Is there any thing to eat - is a phrase of the past; it's almost as if the phrase never existed. I feel less than a ghost; at least ghosts have a purpose; I have none. Somebody I know found loads of intentions and purposes while in Timbaktu. Perhaps I should head there. There is no paucity of finding things there. Things are always there.