I have only one sibling, my sister, known to y’all as Scoo. We have not had a supercalifragilistic happy happy joy joy relationship – quite the opposite in fact – but about five years ago we settled into a normal adult sibling relationship. She is, in case you haven’t guessed, a girl, like me, hurr hurr. I also have a band of five cousins who are honorary siblings, three boys and two girls. Some are known to you: the Poo, the Snoog and Acrosticus.
Starting with the whole issue of being compared. Hell yeah we were compared! I remember being referred to as Scoo’s sister all through school, and having teachers say to me, your sister comes first in class, why can’t you? I was once incensed enough to reply: Because I’m not her! Got smacked for that too. My extended family would indulge me and not her, mainly because she was always quiet and reserved, quite to opposite of me. She is also a superachiever. No really. She had her PhD at 26 (about 3 months past actually), and from the school that was number one for the programme she applied to. She was, as previously mentioned, always first in class. She has Head Girl. She went off to only the best college in the country for engineering and sciences. She had an obscene GPA. She only lost 20 points each in both the GRE and the SAT. She never quits anything.
I, on the other hand, am definitely not stupid. I did fine in school, if I wanted to. I remember I didn’t want to write a Physics exam so I didn’t answer any of the questions. The sports master, whom I had such a crush on, was invigilating and said, hey, come on, revise your paper, don’t just sit there till time is up. So I revised, and rewrote the paper, and then got 100. I never had trouble with maths (okay, I’ll admit, functions give me the screaming heebie jeebies), or any kind of science; I just never felt engaged enough. I was always hovering around fifth in class; I went to a mediocre college for a year and then dropped out to change to English and go to the country’s top college for that. However, English is not a REAL subject in South India, as many kindly people told me, so I should just do a computer course and get married off. Look at my sister! Studying in the US! With full scholarship! Of course I also went on to do that eventually, but you know, some lame thing called Latin American Studies. They speak Latin in America? I thought it was only English.
My cousins are also rather overachievers. Good tambrams the lot of us. Acrosticus also went to the same college as Scoo, also with obscene marks; and got his PhD from India’s top university. His brother also did some such madly achieving thing. The thing is, no one made that big a deal out of it in the family. It was never academics that differentiated people in our family, it was socializing, taking and making jokes, getting along with everyone around, and I’m really good at these things. Scoo, not being here much since 1996, is not. So people are different with us, and this made us hate each other for a while.
We never shared clothes, she’s tiny next to me, and I don’t mean only in terms of weight. We shared books though, and our birthday, and tried to outdo each other with plans. But we also shared those things (well not the birthday) with the Cousin Pack. Mind you, there’s lots of my mum’s cousins who are part of the pack, seeing as how young they are. We rarely confided in each other, or talked about insecurities – maybe because we felt we’d be exposing underbellies. Even now, there’s an element of stiff upper lip old thing about our interactions. I wouldn’t call her to cry. No, it’s not because she wouldn’t help me, but it would just be letting the side down. I’d call Acrosticus though, and he’s a boy.
Being younger and far less driven, focussed and motivated, to my parents I am the problem child. I drive em nuts. I never do things unless I really want to or need to. I will not commit to anything and I quit too easily. So I am not spoiled because of her; I don’t get relaxed attitudes because they rode out the worry on her; I have a much stricter setup than she does.
Which brings me to the whole what kinda siblings thing. Ideally, I’d have two of each, you know one to bond with of each sex, etc. Seriously though, I don’t know if having an older brother would help any more or less than an older sister, and all other combinations. I also don’t know if same sex leads to more bonding; it’s more like there are more similarities, so more room for connection and friction. I do believe, however, that growing up with someone of the opposite sex around, you learn to be comfy around the opposite sex and treat them just like people. So boys can understand about menstrual cramps, and girls can understand about kicking in the nuts. But mostly, so kids get used to thinking of people as people, regardless of boy or girl ness.
P.S. I do want a boy and two girls though, and maybe one more of each. Hee. Girls so I can teach them to be strong and brave and take no shit from nobody, like Amma taught us, and boys so I can teach them to be strong and brave and treat women right ;)