In different stages of their life, people may find different purposes for their life. It may be as simple as getting into the best university in the country, or a more grand purpose such as to provide the best things for their children. Some purposes may be temporary, some others may be the ideals that takes a lifetime to achieve. Some purposes may be set by themselves, some others may be set by external agents or circumstances. In my case, a practical yet noble purpose has been set for me in the earliest stage of my life.

Shortly after my parents had their first child, they seriously considered to have no more children. (Perhaps they found my elder sister so lovely that they need no other children to fulfill their life. Or perhaps they found taking care of her so exhausting that they had no energy left for more children). Yet they changed their mind after a funeral of an elderly relative. The deceased relative had only one son, and my parents’ impression of that funeral was how pitiful and lonely this only son looked. They did not want their daughter to experience the same pitiable situation, so they began to plan and pray for another child “who can be a companion” to their firstborn. Their prayer was granted: I was born.

And so a companion I have been to my sister, and will ever be, as long as we live. A companion to her: not necessarily the closest friend, as there are others who may suit her personality more. And I am aware that after marriage, one’s spouse and children will be dearer and closer to one’s heart compared to one’s siblings. Yet a companion I have been and will ever be to her, as no other person can be. After all, I am the only person in the world (besides herself) who knows how to gauge our parents’ mood and plan to act accordingly. And I am the only one who loves our parents as she loves them. For I believe that each love has its own distinctive quality, and only your siblings can love your parents as you do. So we have been each other’s companion when we want to reminisce about our childhood; and each other’s trusted ally when we need to convince our parents of something.  And according to human reckoning, I will be there for her, as our parents first intended, when we finally have to bid them farewell for the last time. Though we pray to God that that day shall not come. At least not for a long, long time.

And what a companion she has been to me. In contrast to the common perception that having an elder sister means you will be bossed around, I found it very convenient to have an elder sister. Many people who know us often comment that I am more mature than her, but that only shows how little they know us. Being the elder, she has always been the first to go through many experiences, and she has always come back to me with useful advice and tips. From kindergarten to high school, we went to the same school, and she had told me many information such as which teacher to be careful with, which food stall was good,  etc. Indeed, when I was about to go to ITB, I felt excited that for the first time I would go to a school where I would not be known simply as “Naomi’s sister”. But at the same time I felt a bit daunted that for the first time, I would have to survive without her advice and tips. Her advice extends to other aspects of life, of course. Few weeks before my undergraduate oral defence, she sent me fashionable dress and blazer which successfully impressed my professors. (By the way, sister, another defence is coming, so please send me another set). Having been an attractive girl with many suitors, she was also able to guide me on how to go through my first courtship. More recently, she shared with me her experience as a married woman and a mother. And for how her advice helped me to decide against marrying at a young age and instead pursuing my graduate study, I will forever be indebted to her.

And why am I writing all these at this hour? Since this morning my mind has been filled with these thoughts so I thought I might as well write it and send it to her as a belated birthday card.