It was a stunning summer day. Arm in arm, Sikuma and I went back and forth the narrow alleys of New Road until we finally uncovered our destination: Ranjana Soda Center! We sat on the courtyard popping two bottles of guava flavoured soda, and relished in the sheer pleasure as the sodas quenched our thirst. Our usual chit-chats resumed, followed by our infamous jokes, which sent us into a blissful fit of laughter.


Right then, one of us (can’t really remember who) suggested we should be mitinis. Without another thought, the other one agreed; we are a spontaneous pair after all! Besides, we have so much in common, from our dumb jokes (only we find each other’s jokes funny) to our tendency to burst into uncontrollable hysterics. So, off we went rummaging through our wallets, took out two ten rupee notes and wrote each other a loving message that ended with xoxoxo. We exchanged the notes and reminded each other that the note was never to be used, even if we needed money to buy something as divine and vital as chocolate. After all, the note was a deal of a lifetime that was to be cherished until death. And from then on, Sikuma Rai was no longer just Sikuma Rai to me. She became my mitini, my soul sister.


A miteri saino is a special kind of relationship, entirely unique to Nepal, which binds two people into a lifelong promise of close friendship; males and females in such a relationship address each other as mit and mitini respectively. So how is a miteri saino possibly different to a regular friendship?

 

Sumitra “Sumi” G.C., 16, and Swasti “Pomphu” Karmacharya, 16, who have been mitinis for the last six months:
“A friend is someone you laugh with, dance with and share all your secrets with. A mitini is all that but comes with certain responsibilities. Friendship changes as time passes by. You grow and change as a person. Situations change, distances widen and soon you will find yourself following different paths in life, with no cross-roads in between. This process is only natural – the most ordinary way a friendship evolves and dissolves. However, a mitini or mit can’t come and go like friends do. You have to stick to them your whole life, through all the ups and downs. Having a mit/mitini is like having a sibling; you can live with the reassurance that they will always be there for you and accept you even at your worst.”

 

Shailendra Thakali and Bishnu Thakali, who have been mits for over 30 years now:
“We have been the best of friends ever since we can remember. When we were in our early 20s, our parents suggested we transform our friendship into a miteri saino because we were, what she said, always joined at the hip. Our families gathered and conducted a modest puja where we formally became mits. We then informed all our relatives who came pouring down with Buddhist prayer scarves to congratulate us. 30 years on, our relationship is just as strong, if not stronger. One of the best things about having a mit is that he’ll never shun you – he’ll be there to celebrate with you during your good times and to mourn with you during your bad times. Even though we haven’t lived in the same city for the last 25 years, we regularly keep in touch and have helped each other through all the twists and turns of our lives. Our relationship isn’t just limited to us two; we look out for each other’s family as if they are our own. Sure, a good friend might do just the same too, but a miteri saino is a much more formalised version of that kind of friendship.”


In this day of greed and egoism, a relationship as selfless and honest as this (and isn’t coerced by blood either) is a true miracle. Talking to these pairs of mits and mitinis made me understand the uniqueness and strength of this bond called miteri saino. Although Sikuma and I hadn’t really comprehended the depth of the promise we made, we definitely have no regrets about making one. The most important thing is: we do now! We’ll love, we’ll listen, we’ll fight, we’ll tolerate, but at the end of the day, we’ll remain faithful. After all, we’re Soul Sisters!

 

Think having a mit/mitini is all fun and play? Definitely not! It comes with its own share of rules and responsibilities, too. Check out some of the fundamental mitini pacts:
You can never break your friendship.


A miteri saino cannot take place between opposite sex.


You have to have a pet name for your mit/mitini. I call mine Mit-Sik.


You have to treat each other with respect, hence use the more respectful tapai, instead of timi or taa.


You might not be blood-related but your souls are now intertwined. This means that members of the two families cannot get married to each other.


In accord to Rule 5, your mit/mitini’s relatives are now your ‘mit relatives’ too. Therefore, you need to address them likewise. Examples: you have to call your mit’s dad Mit-dad, your mit’s mom Mit-mom, and so forth.


You can envy your friends or even your siblings, but never a mit/mitini! If you ever get jealous of your mit/mitini or betray them, it is said that you’ll suffer in your next life.
If your mit/mitini expires, you’ll be the care-taker of his/her children. Basically, your mit/mitini acts as a godfather/godmother to your children and vice versa.

 


Did you know?

  1. Two individuals can become mits/mitinis by bringing their blood in contact through a small cut on each of their hands. Yeah, gross I know. And probably unsafe, too.
  2. Some people have milder ways of sealing their friendship, like spitting onto their own hands and exchanging a handshake.
  3. Back in the days getting into a miteri saino with someone was huge deal. So much so that the parents sacrificed goats and threw a massive party in name of the new relationship established between the two families.
  4. The exchange of a full set of brand new clothes is another common custom people follow in order to get into a miteri saino.