.On a cold wintry night, when Della was busy warming water for her mistress, her son came running in the pantry, breathless, and in excited tones yelled out “Aunt Agnes is in pain! She is calling for you!!”
Della was prepared, as she had known the time had come for the baby to be born. The midwife lived close by. She told little Luis to run and fetch her, while she would be by Agnes, as well as prepare all that was necessary to bring the child into this world. Della marvelled at this gift of the almighty, and never ceased to wonder at the miracle of childbirth. She could see Agnes in pain, it was her first time. She held her hand and patted her forehead reassuringly wiping the sweat. The biting cold outside and the unfriendly weather conditions were comparable to what Agnes was going through tonight. Her heart was stone cold and sad, as frozen as a corpse.

” Turn the heater on please, I am shivering” , Asked Agnes in a weak voice. The heater was already on, Della wondered. Why was the midwife taking so long to come? She rubbed Agnes’ cold hands and feet vigorously, till they were warm.

“Hurry! Call her! The baby is coming!” Screamed Agnes. The pain seemed to be tearing right through her body. Just as the head with messy hair showed up, the midwife landed gasping for breath and shaking off the snow. She washed her hands and got to her job right away. There she was, a pretty blue-eyed little bundle crying, while the two ladies attending Agnes, did their job of cleaning the baby and placing her in her mothers’ arms. But Agnes continued to scream in pain, and both the ladies wondered what could be the matter. The midwife bewildered at her own failure of not realising that there were twins, hastily worked upon the other baby. A girl too, as pretty as her sister, appeared with some trouble but had a dark red scar on her forehead. Della was stumped at the sight of two wiggly little creatures crying and asking for all the attention from the world they had just appeared in. Ah Well! thought the tired, dazed but happy, and emotional Agnes. Two little bundles of joy, she smiled, cuddling both pensively. She was going to have her hands full, and for now did not have the time to think about her wayward husband.

They married soon after a short courtship, maybe they should have known each other better. Agnes never understood his mania for social acceptance, to the extent of hobnobbing around all the time. They never got time for themselves. And of late, after he got to know that she was expecting a baby, he was hardly home. He stayed away at the pretext of starting a new theme park in the neighbouring city. She also felt that maybe he was involved with someone emotionally. You know how a woman senses it when her man goes adrift. She was a gentle, petite lady, creative and talented in her own way. She was a brilliant needleworker, and her craft was sold in all high-end boutiques. She kept her mind away from getting distressed, but today of all days, she wished he was there by her side. Stoically, Agnes tried to keep her husband out of her mind, she would maybe deal with this later.

Agnes, the beautiful mother of two naughty, demanding, little darlings, was a patient mother as if she was here on earth just to be a mum. Amanda and Loretta were happy little children. They grew up without their father, occasionally seeing him as a man in the house, who would be there for a couple of days and then go away, promising to be back soon. But it was never ever soon.

Amanda, with the scar, was more lively, fun and restless, always up to some mischief. Loretta was serious, the teachers favourite, always doing it all right. Somehow Amanda always got into trouble, was scolded more often, got hurt more, ran into occasional trouble, but was brilliant too.  Amanda was a lover at heart. She had no heirs about her and was always there to help selflessly. It looked as though Loretta was jealous of Amanda’s free spirit and humble disposition, wondering how she managed to get good grades, especially when she gave almost negligible time to her studies, somehow always making her feel like a failure . She pretended to be affectionate, at times behaving like inseparable sisters. Amanda never guessed Loretta’s sinister feelings towards her.She blindly loved her sister and had faith in her.

Sibling rivalry is natural at times, but this envy was taking a violent shape.Amanda loved animals and got a little kitty home. The adorable kitty was loved by all except Loretta. She may have been able to muster up enough endurance for the cat had it not been her sisters favourite. She devised plans of killing her. Loretta read that lilies were not safe for the cat and subversively added pieces of the lily in the kittens’ wet food. Within a few hours of consuming the meal, kitty experienced vomiting and had to be rushed to the vet. Loretta felt an inner sense of satisfaction seeing Amanda helpless and devastated when the doctor pronounced the feline dead. In another incident, Loretta changed the contents of Amanda’s prize-winning essay, one that she had to read out loud in front of the middle school. She deftly managed to duplicate the handwriting. Amanda suffered embarrassment and pain, wondering who could be behind this vile act. Loretta made her believe it was Katy, Amanda’s best friend, telling her that she was jealous of her, thus breaking their friendship.

And so it continued, these little manipulative actions of Loretta. Her evil actions were not being caught and she kept harming Amanda, who stayed blissfully unaware of this. On the contrary, Loretta portrayed herself as a self-sacrificing young sister.

One day at the swimming pool, when Loretta had gone with her boyfriend and he pulled her into the water. Amanda saw this and knew her sisters fear of drowning. She was in the deep struggling for air, while her boyfriend did not fathom the intensity of fear Loretta had. Amanda jumped in, held her sister’s hands and safely got her out. Loretta struggled to make sense of all those feelings she had for her sister after this incident. Remorseful, she looked into her sisters simple and true love for her for the first time. Regretting all those times when she had behaved appallingly hideous with her sister, she went into a severe depression. Agnes who was aware of Loretta’s mean attitude tried to deal with it gently but never understood the extent Loretta could go to.

It took a lot of inner struggle on her part to break that hard boiled evil exterior, but Loretta was determined. Whatever reasons were behind her wicked destructive behaviour, she resolved to dislodge it out of her system.Both, mother and sister helped Loretta out of this. They were by her always, thus cementing  the bond between the three of them, creating memories that they would always cherish.

As for Amanda, despite the scar on her forehead that could have made her less appealing  to look at, she continued to win hearts and make friends, becoming more like her mother, creative, sensitive and delightful.


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