Karishma & Kajol : Sisters In Conversation

Growing up with Karishma

Written by Kajol – Karishma’s sister

Growing up with Karishma has been an inspiring and beautiful journey for me. It has shaped the way I look at life and has made me the person I am today. In the beginning years of this journey, Karishma, who is three years older than me, was my protective older sister and my role model. Although her cognitive and motor development was slower compared to other kids of her age, she was still ahead of me in many aspects and therefore I saw her as my protective older sister who knew how to hold me with so much care and ever so gently. Looking back I realize that through her embraces and the way she handled me as a baby, she has taught me to be caring, loving, and gentle.

As I started growing, I soon caught up to her, both mentally and physically, and for the following years of the journey we became inseparable. I remember doing absolutely everything together – from sleeping and showering to rescuing cats and playing pranks on our grandpa. Karishma became my closest friend, my partner in crime, my soul sister. Looking back at this beautiful phase in our relationship I realize that through her companionship and bubbly nature she has taught me to love life and enjoy the little things.

We did not have to talk about her condition. I didn’t have to learn how to deal with her. No one had to teach me that she was special. It was all naturally understood. I knew my sister had Down syndrome but I also understood that this would not define her. I knew my sister was different but I also understood that no one is the same.

As we both continued growing, it had become evident that while there were certain things we could do together, there were other things that differentiated us. This was the stage when our roles had to reverse as I became strong enough to be the support Karishma needed. I instinctively understood that from then on I would need to play the role of an elder sister while continuing to relate to Karishma as her playful younger sibling. In this way, she has taught me to be dependable, patient and sensitive to others.

It would be apt to say that a relationship like ours is mutually rewarding. I have seen Karishma as a mother, a sibling, a friend, a savior, an artist. I understand her as a person with special needs and as a beautiful woman just like any other and therefore I am aware of the kind of support she requires. However, I can confidently say that Karishma also understands me as a child, a sister, a friend, a mother, a guardian and a woman just like her.  She has supported me just as much as I have supported her by teaching me to look at the world in the beautiful way that she does. 

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