Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Challenging Love:Siblings

One has often wondered at the truism of the statement 'You are your relationships'. An all encompassing canvas here. Includes, marriage partners, partners at work, social acquaintances, friends and siblings.

The other wisecrack that has vindicated itself from ancient times right down to our present is "God gave us our relatives, thank God we can choose our friends". Cynically true.So the fact that we were born under a particular set of circumstances, with a designated family, extended family, locality, state, nation, is of greater significance than we care to imagine. We can better it (by choosing our friends{wicked smirk}) cannot reverse it.

We are meant to learn and discover ourselves through these realtionships which provide us with the opportunity to bring to the surface traits which we had no inkling existed in our mentality. Good or bad, again is part of destiny, I suppose.

There have been enough incidents in the news to ignore the phenomenon of one of the relationships, namely siblings. It seems in major trouble. Why is there such a paucity of genuine caring, love and concern between siblings today? It has degenerated to the extent of rivalry, not restricted to the purely psychological but manifesting itself through actual violence! Surprising and frightening.

It is easy to condemn but difficult to analyse the factors which contribute so keenly to the widespread almost ubiquitous display. In fact, love between siblings is an exceptional case, whilst rivalry the norm, that too accepted without any visible signs of amazement.

The foremost reason ,prima facie, points towards parents. Whilst it cannot be the sole, it is a major contributory. In my humble opinion, inadvertently, parents sow the seeds of dissension in childhood. How? Consider this:

1) Comparison as a tool for betterment. While the reason to do so may be innocent, the resultant effect is definitely grievous. The lesser one feels animosity and soon resentment has found a breeding ground.

2) Partiality.. for one reason or another. For example, normally parents tend to adore obvious displays of affection and verbal, physical manifestations of emotion. Some children who are quieter or reserved may feel their inability to express ,a deterrent which only gets worse with time as the parental love with the other gets stronger in contrast to his. Quite a catch 22.

3) Parents open keenness on material comforts and gains. It sends the wrong signals to kids that material posessions and advancement is legitimate..Parents approval is present, so long as gains accrue. This may or may not be the sole purose of the other childs existence or on his list of priorities and capabilities.

4)In this scenario, if parents then begin favouring the wealthier and consider him above reproach, by virtue of his success story, the damage is untold. Whether children openly declare or keep it under wraps, the need for parental approval and back patting is a necessary ingredient .When both success and collaterally parental encouragement is lacking, resentment is bound to be the fallout.

5) Parents relationship with their own siblings. Is it a story of sacrifice and tolerance, an exemplification of love beyond all other concerns, or a tale of endless complaints and resentments? Children are keen imitators and quick learners. Why would they wish to do any different?

6) The importance of a neat, clean, life in terms of ethics, morals, principles and outlook. Has this been sufficiently ingrained?

These are what comes to mind in a general context. Situations vary and there may be so many more which are specific to the particular circumstance.

Yesterday, on a visit to the newest addition of swanky restaurants of Khar(btw it is the centre of town these days..old order changeth)on the occasion of sonnys birthday, happened to bump into a class mate from college. She had married into a well known celebrity family in Mumbai, while in college itself, much in keeping with the traditional concept of womanhood, at the time.

My first reaction to myself on seeing her "Gosh, where has the glow disappeared??" Of course this had nothing to do with the fact that she was not in her teens now and all of that. It had more to do with the blank smile, vacant gaze and a certain melancholy which seemed apparent even in the first few minutes.

It had visibly upset me to see her this way. Perhaps sensing my concern and my hesitation to openly enquire , she took me aside and broke down. This is what she had to say. Her father-in-law was the brother of the celebrity of sorts, who had been handling his career. Being the elder he felt obliged to. Also being the lesser in worldly -wise business sense he relented to the younger and his good offices, taking care of financial investments which the two had made over the years, apart from their family business.

In a nut-shell, despite reminders by the elder to make clear-cut demarcations of property and allocation of funds, the younger delayed with sweetness personnified and averments of the kind"Do you think Brother, that I will ever dupe you?"

Her father-in-law recently expired. All hell broke loose when the sons and mother realised that they were literally at the mercy of the younger on for every morsel, so-to-speak. The sons were furious, understandably. They threatened legal action. The younger, probably in anticipation of this eventuality, showed his hand. He was the legal owner of their apartment, factories and plots. So go scream at the gulls now!!

Net result. My friend and her family find themselves fending off the bank, who has threatened to sue , since the instalments have been discontinued. Her husband has had to take up acting assignments to make a living. And she sells Insurance.. which as the tag says , is a matter of solicitation.

The fact that one is born from the same parents, does not make us brothers and sisters. It merely makes us SIBLINGS. To be a family, in the true spirit, requires a lifetime of sacrifices, tolerance, patience and a will to be worthy of being called so.

In the meanwhile, I find myself trying to unearth stories from our ancient texts to glorify sibling love to my kids, since the media and newspapers have made a Taliban of the situation. How does one explain to them that it is an unnatural sequence of event , NOT to care for your family. There is a purpose to having been born from the same mother.. If only to learn that life as teacher is not easy to contend with. You dont always get what you want or deserve.

However, what we take back from our sojourn here on the planet, in terms of memories, love and happiness should be richer in content than what had been dished out. Or it has been a total loss.

Update 3rd May06..
The trigger for this post has taken on a rather tragic turn

Have just received the news of the death of Mr.Promod Mahajan.Extremely sad and shocking.History will link the name of Mr. Mahajan with the name of his brother Pravin, to stand as testimonial forever of Sibling Rivalry in its most demonic and deplorable manifestation.

An elder brother who paid with his life for the jealousy and envy of a younger sibling, whom he had brought up as his own son. A younger brother who was blinded by his frustration at not being as celebrated as his older brother, succumbed to traits which are the bane of humanity.

This proves once and for all that merely being born of the same mother is no guarantee of being a brother in its most appropriate connotation... He was just a Sibling. One to who enmity was reason enough to shed that blood by which they were bound.

Shame.. A testimonial forever now of the degeneration of our morals. India once the land of the rishis and the maharishis, is today one of criminals and criminilisation of every aspect of social, political, personal life.

A truly sad day for India..To be such a spectacle in the eyes of the world..Am too overcome to think of further ramifications to this ghastly episode.

18 comments:

neha said...

There is a purpose to having been born from the same mother.. If only to learn that life as teacher is not easy to contend with. You dont always get what you want or deserve.

I liked that very much Kaveetaa.The first lesson is from home, if you happen to have a sister or a brother who is not your best friend. You grow up realising that life is not fair and it is a very balancing feeling. It makes you come down to earth and also fight.

But a lot depends on the parents, how they train their kids at those times. All dont quote from ancient texts. no one has time for kids.. ..they are left to learn from tv and movies. And these only speak of conflicts. My life has been a roller coaster as far as relationships with my bothers and sister goes. And my parents dont interfere. So, life goes on.

neha said...

There is a purpose to having been born from the same mother.. If only to learn that life as teacher is not easy to contend with. You dont always get what you want or deserve.

I liked that very much Kaveetaa.The first lesson is from home, if you happen to have a sister or a brother who is not your best friend. You grow up realising that life is not fair and it is a very balancing feeling. It makes you come down to earth and also fight.

But a lot depends on the parents, how they train their kids at those times. All dont quote from ancient texts. no one has time for kids.. ..they are left to learn from tv and movies. And these only speak of conflicts. My life has been a roller coaster as far as relationships with my bothers and sister goes. And my parents dont interfere. So, life goes on.

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

I liked your thoughts Neha. If not getting along has led you to realise something so balancing then definitely you have fathomed the fact that all experiences are meant to make us better not bitter:)

If your parents are not intefering, then it maybe to avoid worsening the situation or perhaps prefer that you handle it all by yourselves. If things get bad, I definitely would like to see parents playing mediators. That too if their word holds water. Today , most parents are forced to keep out also if independence from children has taken a negative turn. 'I am my own person' kind of thing.

sanjay said...

Hi kaveeta,

but there are instances where the childhood years have been perfect, but as soon as careers took over, everything changed. Not that there may be rivalry openly, but things are not the same. It seems very artificial and more to do with keeping up pretences or the picture of happy family. Then life is also busy and competitive. So as much time is not given to family obligations and after a while, a certain coldness creeps in.

North said...

Dear Kaveetaa, great article on siblings!! A must-read, for anyone with a brother or sister.

I grew up with 4 siblings. Life in our house, was not a pleasant surrounding/environment. We all clamoured for Mom's affection and attention-we carry these with us in adulthood; and though we are aware of them, we cannot severe the desperation of needing Mom's approval.

So very important for parent's of more than one child; to ensure each child is being nurtured with quality attention.

The youngest in our fam. turned out to become an extreme alchoholic. He was one of those boys, born bad. He was a terror by age: 4. He is violent at times. Last year, I wrote him out of my life, because of it. Now, our family is in turmoil. He blames me and my fam for everything wrong in his life, as he just can't take his own responsibility.

He will hurt you, then say sorry. He is abusive in every way.

It is not a matter of unconditional love anymore Kaveetaa; but, with my brother, it is a matter of my own "sanity" as he abuses us all with his hate/anger/rampaging.

The pressure I am under from him, is unmeasurable. I want to move away, but, with no place to go, no way to get there. I feel trapped, by having him as my brother. I love him, because he is my brother, but he is 48 years old now, and I don't have the capacity anymore, to handle his drunken outbursts, etc. He hurts us all, so very much.

what to do? I just don't want anything to do with him? He has lived with me at least 4 times in his adult life. Everytime he screws up, I took him in. I can't do this no more.

I am a single mom on disability, with a young impressionable son; whom cannot stand his Uncle..my brother says I am turning everyone against him(sigh.)

My brother is here, to teach me unconditional love/patience. I have lost, as I have no more to give him..he has emptied my heart for him? I feel NO guilt,,,I just want peace in my life! I want the right to live my own life; without having to be HIS secondary mother-figure forever?

North

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Sanjay,

You have painted a picture which can be echoed by 99% of our populace. This is a comparatively modern day phenomena for India. For most of the western world it has taken root almost three decades earlier..perhaps encouraging the poets
What is this life full of care

We have no time to stand and stare..

But you know, what struck me about your post was not the lack of time as much as the lack of interest in finding it. Familial bonds have weakened because while in some cases a sibling feels exploited or sponged off his emotions and wealth, on the other, destiny may have taken one of the two to a place in the sun while the other is left in the darkness somewhere. material gains and losses have created a chasm difficult to fill with just a blood connection..'merely siblings'..whats the big deal.. kind of a shrug and a wave of the hand.

Dont you feel this too had its roots somewhere in the upbringing, where parents lacked the foresight to predict a situation of the kind and therefore ignored to warn, cajole, argue, plead, sermonise in favour of a family togetherness, as a vital key to complete the circle of responsibility and answerability?

I dont know all the answers. Am only trying tp put together pieces of innumerable instances that cross my mind now.

North, dear north,

I had to read and re-read your post and then read it again to be able to understand your predicament and situation. It is stressful to say the least..but not hopeless North.

In your case, I think we ought to focus on 'what next' instead of getting into the whys and hows, since the damage has been done and to quite an extent.

That your brother is emotionally immature and lacking in self esteem is the basic deduction. Perhaps being the youngest, has made him an 'eternal kid' kinda fellow. Therefore, no amount of mature or subtle reasoning is going to be of help here. In fact the more attention he is given it will only whet his appetite for more. That goes for explanations, sermons, or whatever else that you may have indulged in all of these years, I can imagine it.

Just as we deal with a precocious kid, ignoring his tantrums and outbursts, you will have to do the same with him. It will be a mistake on your part or your familys to take it seriously and in the bargain create an unsavoury situation for your selves.

This is definitely not your fault..for sure. Therefore any attempt from his side to blame you , shame you or pile you with guilt should be like water on a ducks back.

Immediately, as of now, you ought to take a break from him for some time atleast. Proximity can never grant a complete view of the scene. It will be narrow and one dimensional in scope. Distance will afford a grander perspective, will aid you to develop a 360 degree vision as well as breathing time .

Lastly, and most importantly, North.. Relax.. I repeat ..it is not your fault. Your family be one of the fewer who has faced such a person, but You know as well as me there are plenty of the kind..Or Freud and Carl jung would not have been where they are today.:)

Envision him as a kid trapped in a cage with crutches, helpless, frantic and imprisoned in the vicissitudes of his own fears and insecurities..Pitiable actually.

You are one of a kind.. have overcome such a magnitude of problems. You are not going to allow this to get the better of you. Be calm and live a day at a time.

I hope I have not overstepped.. if I have please consider it a result as a wave of concern for you and forgive.

Love..lots and lots

Queer said...

I will not say I have grown up not knowing sibling rivalry or jealousy or even petty fights. To me, all these and more define my childhood, my relationship with my siblings. Even today, we fight, shout at each other like maniacs, walk off in a huff. It is hard to imagine that even today, we exhibit the same exact juvenile behaviour, when it comes to each other. But there is this one solace and security that has grown since we were kids, the confidence that no matter, we got each others back. And that is the reward.

Chameleon's Karma said...

My brother and me live in adjacent apartments in the same building. Our mom stays with us. Not only are the two of us the best of buddies, the same is true for my wife and my sister-in-law as well and for my son and my nephew.
Now, will everyone please touch wood!!

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Queer,

Most people have fond memories of those 'wonderful times' when fights ensued over totally innocuous causes and flared up to the extent of 'cleaning up with dettol a door knob since you have touched it' kind of absurdity. And yes,this defines childhood . If the bottom line is a deep caring and concern for one another, through thick and thin, then nothing else matters.

It is not the frequency of fights or its inane resons which put the relationship at stake. Finally it is simply a question of whether or not love is the undercurrent.

Ck,
Touch wood.

Come to think of it there is something your parents must have done right and you guys have carried on the mantle. Bravo..

There was a family we had as neighbours , comprising of 6 sons and three daughters. The patriarch an imposing personality but a statesman and gentle to the core, insisted that all of thm not only live togetherunder the same roof but despite married sons. insisted on a common kitchen as well. Knowing fully well that differences are bound to arise, every new daughter-in-law was asked to approach himdirectly with any problems she might encounter. Also, every Sunday, a family meeting was set, where problems were discussed and SORTED OUT. It was magnificent..and they were a merry bunch.

Ever since the death of the patriarch, all has gone down hill. The brothers cannot bear to be in each others pany, and all flats have been separated.End of story.

So times are changing. Nuclear families with their own blinkered existence, are the norm.

Nature meant us to have readymade friends in the form of brothers and sisters. But Man had other plans.

Chameleon's Karma said...

And yes... if any of us has any problems with another, we sort it out before we retire for the day...
Incidentally, I do the same with friends - don't like to go to bed with issues and problems!!

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Have just received the news of the death of Mr.Promod Mahajan.Extremely sad and shocking.

History will link the name of Mr. Mahajan with the name of his brother Pravin, to stand as testimonial forever of Sibling Rivalry in its most demonic and deplorable manifestation.

A brother who paid with his life for the jealousy and envy of a younger sibling, whom he had brought up as his own son.

A younger brother who was blinded by his frustration at not being as celebrated as his older brother, succumbed to the traits that proves once and for all that merely being born of the same mother is no guarantee of being a brother in its most appropriate connotation... He was just a Sibling. One to who enmity was reason enough to shed the blood through which they were bound.

Shame.. A testimonial forever now of the degeneration of our morals. India once the land of the rishis and the maharishis, is today one of criminals and criminilisation of every aspect of social, political, personal life.

A truly sad day for India.

Am too overcome to think of further ramifications to this ghastly episode.

North said...

Dear Kaveetaa, God Bless you; for taking the time to help my situation with my brother! I cannot begin to express the need I had to hear something reassuring and positive. The family blames me for walking away from him. It has been difficult to detach; but I have been successful until last week, he called out of the blue..told my son he hated me for taking everyone away from him. so hard! : ( I am old, disabled and so vulnerable Kaveetaa; Mom does't fear him; but, I do..so do my 2 sisters(older bro is deceased)

But, you could never over-step an boundaries as far as I am concerned Kaveetaa; because I have set none before you(smiles.)

Much love, and gratitude, for you big heart, your wisdom; and the willingness to share them with this troubled gal-from time to time.

Love, North

North said...

Kaveetaa, on another note; all my love and prayers for this tragedy; for your disappointment, on how your beloved India is being portrayed, through the acts/actions of only a few.

Keep love and forgiveness nearer than the sorrow, and anger Kaveetaa.. it is the way of peace.

Much love, North

North said...

Dear Kaveetaa, you have not posted yet.

Your breath, has been taken away.

May this loving gesture of peace I send, offer you a small comfort, for your troubling heart/mind/spirit;

as your soul weeps for those that need weeping for. God Bless, your tender human-ness.

May God continue to smile upon you with great favour.

may your tranquility be restored.

North

Chameleon's Karma said...

A sad day for India??
Is this really a resricted-to-India phenomenon? Nyahh!!
Its a sad day, Yes!! for India - not necessarily so!!

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Ck,

I cannot recall another incident of the kind in world politics, when a brother has killed his own..

The last I can think of is Aurangzeb:).

If you mean in the world , generally, then ofcourse yes. There may be incidents of sibling rivalry gone to the extent of murder.

Since it is so glaringly in the news, it does indict India, to that extent. That was my point. It is sad that the name of our country will also be taken with reference to this dastardly act.

silbil said...

i come from a family where my father much like maryada puroshottam Rama (to our great annoyance as we think martyrhood should be for suraj barjatya films) has an elder brother who has an anger and selfishness problem so huge that it has turned violent many times...
and my mother has a youngewr sister who almost blames her for everything...from her broken marriages to blocked drains almost everything is my mother or another masi's fault!!!
i know it sounds like i am NATURALLY on my parents side because they are my parents...but believe me they have driven us up the wall many many many times in the past and still do with their large hearted forgiveness...
yup it can put all ekta kapoor's parvatis tulsis and the gang to shame...
and i actually can't understand what goes wrong in situations like this my parents and their siblings had the same set of parents= values right?
but having said what i said you can't only blame the murderer...i mean i know nothing justifies an action like that and had i been related to pramode mahajan in some way i would be singing a different tuine maybe but still the murderer is also a victim of sorts...
to be so desperate for attention...to be heard...to be notciecd for something...
suicide and a murder like this...aren't they also pleas for help in a way...

silbil said...
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