Sibling is a word that was once out of use but then brought back into English in the early 1900s as a useful word in anthropology. Siblings are unique because they share the same parents and the environment. Siblings have common genetic and cultural endowments They have intense opportunities for cooperation and competition simultaneously.

Having siblings may necessitate learning how to share, and can offer a significant support network later in life. Siblings have the potential of providing each other a fundamental and matchless sense of comfort, love and mutuality.

A sibling is always special, more so these days, when single child families are becoming the norm resulting in disappearance of a sibling. The effect of a sibling extends up to eternity. You are made to assimilate the essence of sharing. Sibling makes you learn and enjoy sharing. A sibling means cooperation and competition at the same time because they have a common resource for their sustenance at their command and at times a common problem too. In our times things used to be quite different. I had a handful of siblings. Our eldest sister was sixteen years senior to me and the youngest sister was nine years junior to me. In between we had four brothers and a sister. Our family was not exceptional one. Having a good number of siblings was a norm, not an exception. We happened to define each other and shape our persona
         While I had a very special equation with the brother just elder to me, our eldest brother was special for the whole family. He was the tragic hero of the unit. He supplemented father’s role financially in our earlier phase. In later phase he was made to fend for himself. A naive person that he was, he thought that his siblings would be taking care of his interests in return. But that proved to be a utopia. By that time, each of us had a distinct existence and identity. We recognised him as just a sibling.
                     As I reminisce I see that sibling interactions have substantially contributed to shape me.
         Sometimes siblings can get in each other's space. – Gisele Bundchen
          The above observation very aptly sums up my relationships with the brother just elder to me. The first event was my joining him innocently when he started school going. I became his classmate surreptitiously, so that our father noticed it only after some time. Thus I got in his space. It transpires to me that this act of mine made him uncomfortable. I understand only now that it had a negative effect on him. He stumbled in studies. I outshone him. He took it in dignified obscureness. We remained cordial to each other. We happened to share our friends and classmates, Our father made a serious attempt to convince me to drop a year. But I did not agree. I had gained recognition and praise. I needed it, more so because I was suffering from a sense of rejection and non–acceptance because of my dark complexion.
       We continued to share our identities. He was not comfortable, but did not show it in words. He was not apathetic towards me. As for me, I understand that I had a guilt complex. My conscience constantly pricked me. I would attempt to take care of his interests We would share our meagre possessions. After we passed our intermediate exams, I gave a break to my studies primarily to provide him the space which was encroached upon by me. On hindsight I find it remarkable that in spite of persistent conflict there was no jealousy among us. On the contrary mutual love and concern persisted. Though I could discern the hurt and distortions building up in his psyche. This could not be mitigated in spite of conscious and persistent endeavour on my part.

My commitment with an idea heralded the defining face of sibling rivalry. The idea challenged a deep rooted social taboo such as widow marriage. I faced resistance and had to be out of my parents’ family system. So I vacated the space which was automatically claimed by him. Our father, being an enlightened person and loving father, supported me. This triggered the unfolding of hitherto hidden face of sibling rivalry. He felt insecure. And began to make all out efforts to block appreciation and acceptance for me from family and friends and effectively ostracize me from the community. His approach towards me presented a very complex and interesting face of sibling rivalry and attachment. He offered stiff resistance to our acceptance in the family and community, but at the same time he had unstinted love and adoration for our children. This was a vivid expression of his fear, He feared that I may claim the space he had acquired and cultivated zealously over a long period,

Tail piece – This is particularly important considering the recent societal changes including a trend towards smaller families. Closeness with siblings may serve as the primary relational anchor in older adulthood. So although we do not have a conclusive answer to this age–old question, allow me to end with my own recent observation. A few weeks ago as my 20–month–old daughter was playing outside she stumbled, bumped her head, and lost consciousness. I frantically called the paramedics and as they were wheeling her on a stretcher into the ambulance, I noticed my 7–year–old son observing the chaos and looking quite upset. I proceeded to reach out to him to offer some comfort but as he was giving me a half–hearted hug he made eye contact with his 9–year–old brother and instinctively ran up to him as they embraced for a full ten seconds. There was something irreplaceable that brother support offered during that moment that surpassed anything that a father’s hug had to offer.
     Siblings have the potential of providing each other a fundamental and matchless sense of comfort, love and mutuality. – Avidan Milevsky


More by :  Ganganand Jha

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