Monday, 22 November 2010

Blog challenge Day 11: Your siblings

That's easy. I don't have any. But that would be too easy. When I was a child, I had an imaginary sister called Galya. I talked to her all the time, asked her advice on all important issues, made room for her beside me in my bed. I truly cannot remember when and how she disappeared.

My best friend Alyona – see my earlier blog post – and I pretended we were sisters; she was an only child too. It was a big, big secret that we were sisters, and I don't remember when we stopped either.

More important, in Russian, there is no difference in words for siblings and cousins. A male cousin is a “second brother”. A female cousin is a “second sister”. A second cousin is a “third” brother or sister. Normally you drop “second” and “third” (just as with cousins in English) and just say brother and sister. In this way I have loads of siblings. One brother is four years older than I, and he used to live with my maternal parents. When I visited and stayed overnight, we were allowed to have a pillow fight. Four years is a huge difference when you are very young, so his was my big, strong, clever brother. My other cousin is four years younger than I, and when I visited we played polar expeditions and border control. He had all those wonderful boy toys that I never had and would never dare to ask for.

Then I have my cousin Nina, twelve years younger. She was just a baby until she suddenly, about twenty years ago, was more or less the same age. We are good friends and talk on Skype every now and then. She is Anton's godmother.

I also have a second or perhaps third cousin – brother as it were – my age whom I mostly met on Christmas Eve. We were the only children and had fun together. I lost touch with him years ago.

Because of weird generation shifts I also have a third cousin twice removed who is almost my age. That is, when I was a child she was almost grown-up, but now we are the same age, give or take.

Some years ago I had a phone call from a “brother” in Germany. We managed to figure out how we were related. Without in-laws, just blood relatives, I probably have fifty siblings that I know of.

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