Meet S. Fashionista, celebrity fan, movie maniac, business mogul, accountant, dancer, singer, selfie icon, pout queen, sulker, Gazelle. She owns more shoes and clothes than anyone I’ve ever known and packs a mean gaze for someone petite. Sometimes I’m jealous she has such a lively résumé, other times I really don’t care that she has such a lively résumé.
Then the two older boys who make it their business to spoil and bully the girls– handsome as Stags I should add. Over the years I’ve watched people gawk and describe my brothers as the most beautiful of the lot. What’s up with that anyway, pitting siblings against one another in beauty contests? It’s not like I didn’t think them passably human, but between watching the boys get down and dirty in grime as they played football, wrestled, dissected unsuspecting Lizards and just being guys, I just think it odd that anyone would expect that I’d take note of their dashing masculinity. Now that we’re older, I confess the boys are good looking.
And there’s me. Bookworm, ex-tomboy, ex-athlete, diplomat, accountant, big sister, little sister, family Duckling, Donkey, Mouse. If you ask anyone who likes to have fun, I’m the definition of frigid and boring. No, don’t try to be pacifying, it’s true. I’m the one who frowns when you make sexual jokes that’s supposed to be funny and stares blankly when you try to be smart. I turn down dates because I’m supposedly too busy to hang out and send all the nice interested guys scurrying for cover by being too serious . . . so yeah, every now and again I have to mumble to my ice cold heart: Be still. Relax.
S and I are polar opposites– unless you intend to take into account bra sizes and the occasional moments of senselessness spanning over an hour. Hopefully the differences in our brief bio was glaring. She’s also the last child of my parents and an immediate younger sibling.
If you have younger siblings, then you probably know what it’s like to live with the consciousness that your actions are partly responsible for shaping the direction of their life since—believe it or not—they are always watching. I know because despite the polarity of our mannerism, my sister swears she’s learned everything she does from me. Me! How in blazes did that happen? And there’s the matter of contentment. Despite being the Landlady of a bigger portion of the wardrobe, S insists on wearing almost everything of mine that fits, which is basically all my shirts. If I don’t let her have it, I’ll have to deal with talking to a wall the rest of the week. It’s like the young ones are wired to imitate the nearest adult.
So I have a little sister who owns too much and not enough. I am pacifying, complacent and non-confrontational most times, and now I fear I may have spoiled her too much over the years. I also worry about the kind of things she’s focused on which are pretty much opposed to what I believe she should focus on. There’s the Beauty vs. Brain argument and all the things a responsible woman who is career driven shouldn’t be bothered with; the inability to hold a conversation like I’d want her to and her habit of going mute when asked for an opinion.
And I am ashamed of these thoughts.
S is beautiful, smart, a delight to be around, with more spine than I ever imagined. But she has differing areas of interests and for some reason, despite all my preachings about people being who they want to be, I realize I am not so different from most parents out there; the ones who insist on their children becoming the doctor or the engineer when they’d rather be the movie director or the photographer. So what if S wants to be a model-on air personality-VJ-reality TV star-accountant combo? So what? There are people out there who have become happily successful on more bizarre occupational burgers.
Still underneath the surface and all these lofty desires is something I perceive and also relate with. Something innate that never seems to go away even with age. It’s the fear of living under the shadow of someone else. I know that because sometimes I look at my brothers, how much they’ve achieved, their confidence levels, my parents beaming with pride . . . And I wonder if I’ll ever be like them. I adored these young men while growing up. I was the tom-boy who kicked the ball and climbed the fences. And S was the shadow, thumb in mouth, who tailed me with a yellow blanket in hand. She was to me what I was to the boys. They were my idols as I was hers.
And it takes a while to break free of that. Right now I don’t know if S is serious about these interests; if this is some way to carve out something different for herself . . . An identity crisis perhaps. I imagine she talks to her friends with more confidence on intellectual subjects than she does me, just like I do with mine (and even complete strangers) than I do the boys. I admit after all these years and over 45 posts on this blog, there still lurks a feeling of self-consciousness at the thought of their reading something here. I couldn’t even tell them I owned a blog, not after years of childhood angst and outbursts often punctuated by an indignant I am not stupid! And these are really silly thoughts when you think about it because every man is quite unique.
Yet, in or out of identity crisis, sibling rivalries and the feelings of inadequacy are some things we’ve always done well: Play hard, fight harder and become cushions for one another in times of crisis. As I stare at the Gazelle who occupied a womb two years after me dump another bag of clothes on an already growing pile, I think to myself: a little more support and a little less prejudice, right? I think I can manage that.