WP Embracing the name of “Little Pavitra”

by Vasudha Rengarajan

7:30. August 22. My first day of high school, and I already had a nickname: “Pavitra’s sister.”

With a three-year age difference, my sister and I share one year at the Harker Upper School together, I as a freshman and she as a senior. People often ask, “Are you close?” Entirely devoid of doubt, I say yes, not only because I feel obliged to say so, but also because we are as close as sibling relationships get.

The cliché phrase “my sister is my best friend” rings true with our relationship. We share everything, from secrets to jewelry, to the occasional pair of socks. As people do not fail to point out, we even share the same mannerisms and speech, creating the names “Little Pavitra” and the more proper reference “Second Rengarajan,” for those who can handle saying our last name. Though many siblings may find similar titles bothersome, the perks of having a sibling in school far outweigh the negative.

The common misconception about having an older sister in school is that her character will detract from my individuality, but the truth is that having her in school just means additional insight, helping me balance my workload between her advice and the contrasting interests I explore on my own. Numerous students and teachers believe the fallacy that common interests are often regarded as the gray area in which it is harder for the younger sibling to “be her own person.” On the contrary, my sibling’s advice makes it easier to find my voice in the field.

I remember walking into Shah and feeling right at home and fingering the digits on Pavitra’s silver bottom locker. I stepped into my French class in Main, extremely self-satisfied with my knowledge of two objects I had learned from my sister: “le poisson,” the fish, and “la boisson,” the drink. Our mealtime discussions had just graduated from two languages to three.

The perks of my older sister’s being in the Upper School extend beyond dinnertime discussions; having a sibling dissolves the barriers of social stratification between the grades. The Upper School’s community has always been one of the most appealing aspects of school, and blending between grades, encouraged by siblings, has played a large role in school-wide community at the Upper School.

My sister and I are in constant contact during the day. As I walk around school like the stereotypical naïve freshman, occasionally seeing Pavitra around campus offers the opportunity to exchange advice during the day, share funny stories, make evening plans, and coordinate extracurricular commitments. Even the occasional “hi” in the halls is a comfort.

The impact of having a sibling in school is not always drastic. We clearly do not spend our free time or extra help periods together, but we will always have each other around when the going gets tough. Being at the same school just warrants twice the number of inside jokes.

Granted, life is not always unicorns and rainbows. Sometimes, it’s peevish being known simply as Pavitra’s sister, a title overriding the obligation of people to learn my own name. By this time I have reluctantly grown accustomed to initially being identified as “Pavitra’s sister,” but at the end of the day, however, it is a part of me that I am proud of.

Between the countless preconceived notions and fresh expectations, I distinctly remember confidently walking into school on my first day with my first friend in school: my sister.