Shivani had barely stepped inside her home.
Her mother began complaining about Richa. “Look at your sister. She wore jeans and a shirt to a wedding. To a wedding!”
Shivani sighed. “And?”
Her mother’s eyebrows arched dangerously high, nostrils flared wide. “And? You kids will never value tradition and customs. I’ll never have the respect of my sisters. They keep telling me how I’ve failed in bringing you two up.”
Shivani hurried towards her bedroom. “Mum, let’s discuss it later. I’m tired,” she said, trying to push the room door open. Of course, Richa had locked the door. Shivani knocked their special knock—a secret code between them. The door clicked open and her sister let her in.
“Sulking?” Shivani teased, closing the door behind her.
In reply, Richa put her face flat on the bed and pulled the pillow over her head.
Shivani persisted. She laid down on the bed next to Richa. “Do you want to go out and eat something? You can tell me all about blocking Rajath’s calls on my phone.”
Richa peeked from under the pillow. “You said he’s been bothering you even after you asked him to leave you alone. And you said you didn’t know how to block calls, Shivani. So, I did it for you.”
“I didn’t say I’m angry, did I? Thank you.”
Richa managed a surprised Oh.
Shivani rolled off the bed. Digging into her handbag, she pulled out a rakhi. It was a red string bracelet with a pearl-studded centre. “I have something for you,” she told her younger sister.
Curious, Richa peeked from under the pillow again. But seeing the rakhi, she frowned. “Did mum’s words rub off on you? I’m not a boy.”
“No,” agreed Shivani. “But you’re my protector, aren’t you?”
Richa smiled in spite of herself. She emerged from her pillow cave and extended her wrist to Shivani.