She became my best friend when I was six and she was four. Before that, I think the age gap was too large. My parents frequently remind me, when we’re all around the dinner table and joking about life, that when they brought her home from the hospital, I asked them to return her.
When we were pre-teens, we were homeschooled by our mother. We spent every waking moment together, from hobbies and extracurriculars to library runs. We played in the garden for hours and ruined my mom’s china and clothes.
Then I became a teen and worked at CERN in particle physics. She came to Switzerland with me. I went to UC Berkeley for undergrad; later she would too. We got the same undergrad degree, befriending the same professors. When I went to law school, she followed me to D.C.
We’ve been on all the same trips and to most of the same countries. We have inside jokes about our inside jokes about our inside jokes. We’ve watched the same movies and have the same friends. We spend hours a day, every day, together.
Yet, now, Janani is most often my coworker. She calls me “Akka” in private still (it’s Kannada for older sister), but it’s “Isvari” often. We work together at Dweebs Global, an organization growing so quickly and keeping us so busy that I’m up at midnight on Friday sending emails. We are about to head into a weekend choked with meetings and projects and stress. Running a volunteer org means that Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days of the week.
So I thought now a good time to reflect on everything we are — far more than just cofounders and coauthors — and share an old poem I once wrote her for her birthday. There are many downsides to working with family and many people I couldn’t do it with, but Janani is not one of them.
I’m twenty-four today and she’s twenty-one. We’re still best friends. And here is the poem:
The sun, he used to smile wide,
at trees we’d try to climb.
The moon, she’d kiss the silent winds,
and toys we left behind.
The rain would dance so wild then,
and beaches were so fine,
and swings and bikes were little things
of little, happy times.
We’d travel wide, build magic worlds,
like shops and fearless dreams,
cook food with mud and read good books
and act like we were queens.
Then the years that followed those
were cruel and dark and gray.
You always were, in dying fog,
a bright and shining ray.
Now people say that time moves on,
that nights stay cold and blue.
That childhood is far, long gone,
and playful days are few.
But you and I still dance with love,
sonatas in the rain.
Our dog still barks and wags his tail,
to glistening refrains.
The moon still sleeps with memories,
of when the starlight kissed her;
And all my life, you’ll always be
my precious little sister.