“Is there a baby in your tummy, Amma?” asked Bambi one day. I laughed it off and thought it was high time I started watching my diet and shape.
“I am very good at looking after young babies” said Bambi another day and I thought perhaps there were younger kids at the nursery and she must be spending more time with them.
“I wish I had someone to play with,” Said Bambi in another instance. I thought she was inferring that she wants a play date with her best friend which she had been asking for some time.
One night as we were looking at the stars from her bedroom window, Bambi closed her eyes and made a wish, “Please can I have a brother and a sister?” That’s when I realised for the first time that my little girl has been yearning for a younger sibling!
Since then several thoughts have been going on in my mind – Does Bambi really need a sibling? Will Bambi feel lonely without a sibling as she grows up? Is growing up with a sibling different from being an only child?
Personally I feel so blessed to have a brother who is just a year older than me. I cannot remember a life without him and none of my childhood memories are complete without my brother featuring in them. The fun that we have had together stands way above all the other fun that I have had. Its’ not just fun but a lot more:
- We went to school together, we played together, watched TV together, painted together –we did pretty much everything together. When we were with our own different sets of friends, after our playtime we did not mind going back home as we knew we had each other’s company to chat, laugh and play. There was never a dull moment at home.
- Making fun of (mainly imitating) dad and mom, grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers, neighbours, other relatives, friends; stealing food from kitchen in the night when Mom and Dad are asleep; chatting while studying and pretending to study hard only when Mum or Dad entered our room; failing in exams and sharing the marks with each other before telling parents; reading comics on the pretext of studying by hiding it inside text books; lying to Mom and Dad to cover up each other’s mistakes and then blackmailing each other later; bunking classes and then promising not to tell Mom and Dad in return for some favour or a stamp/coin from each other’s collection or simply help when needed (“I owe you a favour”). We were the perfect partners in crime.
- .Whining about teachers, friends, cousins or sometimes even Mum and Dad, we did it. We knew we could always count on each other.
- Finding excuses (mostly on the pretext of an upcoming exam or assignment) to avoid going to family functions so as to stay back at home and watch TV or play together and get back to books just as Mom and Dad ring the doorbell. We did all that. That used to be perfect teamwork.
- Sometimes I got told I was found in a dustbin and his life was filled with fun until I joined the family. Sometimes he got told that he was just a servant boy who was brought home to look after me. We were nasty to each other and hated each other; we hated each other like we loved each other. We hated each other so much that we wanted to leave one behind and go to grandparents’ house for few days only to reach there, miss the other and cry and plead to be brought back home on the same day as we got there. We couldn’t live with each other; we couldn’t live without each other either.
- On one occasion the brother climbed the neighbour’s mango tree to pluck mangoes which was strictly forbidden. I was meant to keep an eye and alert him by coughing or humming a tune if I spotted someone coming. As bad luck would have it the neighbour was approaching exactly in that direction so I ran away and needless to say the brother was caught. But as the neighbour was going to report him to Mum and Dad, I was pleading him to stop. We didn’t like seeing each other in trouble.
- On our way to the coaching class there was a house with an odd looking doorbell. One day the brother challenged me to ring the bell five times and pretend as if it was not me who did it and carry on walking. He was also successful in convincing me that the house occupiers were out. I accepted the challenge and next thing I know is I was facing the angry occupiers’ wrath. Immediately the brother took the blame on him and led the occupiers to believe it was he who rang the bell. He always protected me.
- The brother wanted to go for a cricket tour that was clashing with exam date in school. I was commissioned the task of convincing Mum and Dad to let him go. The time that I wanted permission to attend late night college event, the brother was tasked with the responsibility of convincing Mum and Dad and also dropping off and picking me up. We helped each other.
Today we are miles apart but thanks to modern technology we are constantly sending each other messages, selfies, audio clips etc. Any news that brings joy to me I share with him (simultaneously as I am ringing Mum) and vice versa. He is the best friend that I never have to fear will get offended by something I say or do, or worry about losing contact with. I can’t imagine a life without my brother.
As for Bambi, the next time she asks about a sibling, I think I will remind her how important she is to us and how much of happiness she has brought in our lives. Wanting a sibling is normal and having one is certainly fun but growing up as a single child has its own flavour too as you get parents’ undivided attention, love and care .