Yes, I am the elder one. The one who has to carry the burden of expectations of her parents on her frail (current state) shoulders for lifetime. The elder one who has to grow up early because she is supposed to be mature compared to her younger siblings and cousins.
But I used to be a single child too, till the age of six. Oh those days, such lovely days, when all the love, affection and attention of my dear parents were showered on this pumpkin of a daughter. (I was a healthy kid; healthy is an understatement).
Those days of fun and frolic when all my chores were done by my parents and I had the responsibility of eating, sleeping, playing, talking and studying; not necessarily in that order.
And then came my Cinderella of a sister and life took a 180 degree turn.
Like many temporary single kids, I was first amazed by my helpless blob of a sister who had her fists closed even though she was not holding anything. Being the empathetic girl I am, I always tried helping her out by opening her fists but she refused this kind service of mine by closing them again. Even in sleep. Damn!
And a good amount of my parents’ time was spent on looking after her. And I used to wonder what happened, what wrong did I do. Just kiddish immature thoughts, you know.
I was repeatedly told that I am the elder one and hence more mature and more understanding. I knew it was a trick by my parents as I was least bit of mature and understanding at that point of time. I still sometimes have doubts about my “maturity” and “understanding”.
Coming back to my story: one fine day, at a tender age of 7 (I was not tender at all though!), I was given my own room. A whole room with cabinets, study table and a cosy bed! I could do anything in it but I was supposed to maintain it on my own with least help from my parents.
Because I’m the elder one.
So within that room, I built a world of my own, surrounded by books of every shape and size, newspapers and God knows what. I wrote my first poem in that very room, rehearsed my first song (I am a trained Indian classical singer), did not prepare my first speech (can’t take much credit here, my Mom trained me before Cinderella came), decorated my first set of trophies and secretly relished mango pickle.
In that very room, I committed the sin of dancing like Bollywood heroins (Mom’s stoles were used as props) before turning into a full fledged tomboy.
And till date, I still take care of that room of mine even though we have changed places and even after Cinderella started sharing it with me. (Talk about adjustments before marriage)
No one, absolutely no living soul (ghosts are allowed) is allowed to tidy up my room. That power of attorney has been vested in me by my parents.
So when Cinderella decided to move out of station for her higher education, a hole was created in the life of my parents. As I was the elder one, I was always expected to take care of myself while the younger one was pampered like anything. (My late grandparents pampered me even more as I am the eldest in the family, so we are even).
So all the attention has been diverted and is returning back to it’s original recipient. But the original recipient is shocked and feeling weird.
I used to be sad initially when my sister was a baby, but eventually I learnt not to crave attention/affection/love from anyone and this lesson has helped me till date.
Getting back to the topic, my parents are paying extra attention to me, cooking specifically for me, happily listening to all my wishes and waiting to have dinner with me on those days when I get late from the office. My independent nature is getting smothered with parental love.
Rhonda Byrne says that be careful about what you wish for, chances are you might get it. I got this attention after 23 years and now I am complaining. My sister must be reading this with a red face and cursing her luck like anything.
And I’m asked to sleep between my parents like in the older days because I might be feeling “lonely.” Trust me, I love this loneliness.
This loneliness has been my friend since my new room days, has understood me like no human being and had been/has been/will be the most loyal aspect of my life. Loneliness is empowering and when accompanied with silence, provides the most enriching atmosphere for any soul to thrive.
So there is a stiff competition between this new found attention and my solitariness. Let’s see who wins!
P.S.: I hope my future mother-in-law does not think too highly of me after reading this. I am the eldest, but have my fair share of mistakes. So mother-in-law, please do not hand over your bunch of keys the minute I step into your household. And to her son, tidying up the room or house is a joint responsibility. Wink wink.