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Four Girls One House: Sisters Reconnecting

Sisterly bonding in Quarantine.

My name is Alexis Radhakrishnan, and I have three sisters.

My oldest sister, Julia, is a second-year student at the University of Chicago. She graduated from MSTC at Dunbar in 2018. My twin sister, Camille, is a junior with me at Dunbar. Reyna is my youngest sister, and in eighth grade at Beaumont Middle School. 

The last time my sisters and I all lived in one house was a year and a half ago before Julia left for college.

Although we were all under one roof, and Julia, Camille, and I were all at Dunbar; we didn’t see each other much. Julia was in MSTC, a member of the speech team, high school dive team, and a club dive team. This meant that Julia was at school before Camille and I got there and remained after we left, and then went to her dive practices. 

Camille and I may be twins but we don’t play the same sports, and we don’t take the same elective classes. Freshman year, Camille was on the Dunbar Cross Country team and Swim team.

Although Camille and I were in the same grade, our schedules didn’t have much overlap, and we didn’t participate in the same extracurriculars. This limited our social interactions to the time we spent in our shared room, like sleeping and getting ready for school. 

The year I started high school was the same year Reyna started middle school. I was a gymnast, and I had four-hour practices every day after school, at a gym that was 35 minutes away. I left for school before Reyna because the middle school day starts thirty minutes after the high school day, and I returned home just before her bedtime at 9:15. 

Despite the fact that my family was altogether not even two years ago, my average day with my sisters was nowhere near what it is now. These days it’s like traveling back to when I was eight years old and my mother homeschooled all four of her children. We would wake up and start schooling around 8:30 at the kitchen table.

I remember copying down history notes from a whiteboard, learning what makes up a cell and dissecting a worm for science, and reading Edgar Allen Poe for English (I’ve managed to block out all horrific math memories). 

Julia, Camille, Reyna, and I were together from the moment we woke up until we got to go to our designated sports practices. Julia and I did gymnastics together, and Camille and I shared a room so there was no escape from each other. Reyna is over four years younger than Camille and so she never did the same lessons as us and she wasn’t in any sports yet. 

Looking back I have no idea how we did it. We had to learn to be patient, kind, and understanding of one another at all times. These qualities are more important than ever for us to exemplify, we don’t have sports, sleepovers, doctor appointments, anything really,  to give us time apart. 

The more time I spend with my sisters the more things I learn to appreciate each of them. It’s amazing that I could spend the majority, or in Camille’s case the entirety, of my life with these three amazing people and still have more to learn about them. 

Julia and Reyna both have the unique ability to grasp new languages fairly quickly. Julia is fluent in Spanish and now studying Catalan. She was supposed to be studying abroad in Spain right now to further her Spanish and Catalan education, instead, she got to come back to Kentucky.

Julia’s return to her childhood home has been very helpful for me because my Spanish teacher, Mrs. Linda Gayheart isn’t able to walk over to me at the raise of my hand to help me. I am truly in awe at how well Julia can speak and understand Spanish well enough to learn a third language. 

Although Reyna is the youngest Radhakrishnan, she should not be underestimated. Reyna has the same talent as Julia, which I greatly admire.

Reyna takes Japanese lessons once a week, and I never knew how good she was at it until she had to do an at-home project. Reyna had to cook a Japanese meal and walk her audience through what she was doing, in Japanese. Listening to my little sister speak, my jaw dropped. I had no idea what she was saying, but it was incredible to watch her understand a language with two alphabets and that no one else in our family can speak. 

It’s no secret that Camille is my best friend.

I’m a pretty private person, but Camille knows me inside and out. Over these past five weeks of quarantine, Camille has grown so much. She is very interested in environmental science, she’s been reading a lot of books to further her environmental education and she’s starting a website to store all of the fun facts she’s learned and applied to her everyday life. I am so proud of her and the steps she is taking toward her future. 

My sisters have each experienced disappointment because of Covid-19, but it has only made them more patient and understanding people.

Julia’s study abroad was canceled, Reyna’s eighth grade trip to Chicago was suspended indefinitely, and Camille’s summer swim was canceled and environmental science camps have been moved online. While these girls were first bitter and resentful toward the world, they came to the realization that they are not alone, everyone has received the unfortunate news that impacts their personal life during this time. What is important is that we have our health and each other to get through this.