It's not Raksha Bandhan time yet. But the ever-evolving brother-sister relationship goes beyond mere symbolism
Well, our social fabric does keep changing. But certain things do not — such as the relationship between a man and his sister. And, the many roles they essay are intriguing — partners-in-mischief, cover-up agent, a sounding board or a go-to-girl, a trusted friend and confidante, among others.
Entrepreneur Vikram Parthasarathy says, “A man's relationship with his sister is unique. And, as one grows older, it evolves. In my case, it's been one of caring and sharing.”
Thathagata J., an executive with an MNC, says: “My sister is six years older than I am. In the early years, I looked up to her as a role model. However, over the years, it has grown into a more mature relationship.”
That brothers receive a lot of support from their sisters is obvious from what sailing champion Ajay Rau has to say. “My sister Rohini and I support each other in everything. We are very close, though we are based in different corners of the world, thanks to Google, Facebook and Skype.”
Men also seem to get an ego boost when their sisters look up to them. As businessman S.L. Omprakash says: “A sister listens with her heart and doubles as emissary to carry messages to mom. Besides, she trusts you to defend her, and thinks you know the answer to almost everything.”
However, one wonders if there are love-hate moments, despite all this bonding. Says Ajay: “Of course! It's only natural for siblings to have a love-hate relationship. When younger, I was the one getting into trouble, but when my sister did something wrong, I'd complain to my parents. As we got older, we helped each other with not getting into trouble.”
Says Manu (name changed on request), an analyst: “When we were little kids, it was always a love-dislike relationship — the competition for the best piece of the cake; deciding which game we played; getting the best seat in the car... those trivial things. But now, it's the opposite — I'd give her the best part of a cake.”
Agrees Vikram. “During our school days, it used to be a question of one-upmanship. But, after she got married, it's more been about taking care of her. Yes, there are likes and dislikes, but they are few, because you agree to disagree on issues. The farther we are, the closer we become emotionally.”
So, what can be the best part of having a sister? Are there also reasons for grouse? Says Manu: “An older sister can be very caring and protective. Almost like a second mother — good when you are in trouble, and not so when she restricts you. But, all these shape you into a loving, caring person. Come to think of it, there's nothing not-so-nice about the bonding. Perhaps, when the energetic boy is his early teens and the sister refuses to play and instead chooses to stay on the phone with her friends! Also, a lot of my mischievous side was suppressed by my sister's reputation for ‘good behaviour', ‘good academic results', etc. Even without parents comparing us, there was a subconscious desire to match up.”
Adds Thathagata: “Having a sister is surely an advantage. You get to associate with the opposite gender from an early age, and are able to respect them as well. On the flip side, however, sisters can bully and be bossy, at times.” Elaborates Omprakash: “Sisters can't be replaced — they understand and love you. There may be ego clashes or misunderstandings. But, as you grow older, you realise they are the ones who gave you wonderful memories.”
And, Vikram puts it succinctly: “A sister makes me more complete. She is the only person apart from my parents, who has known me from day one,” he adds.
Interestingly, there's another dimension to Ajay's relationship with his sister — they are into the same sport. “At least, there is someone in the family who understands the world of sailing. I don't really compete with her. It was only recently when I raced against her for the first time, did I find that it got her all fired up. I hope she becomes the first Indian woman to sail at the Olympics. I am a huge fan of hers, and I think she's lots of fun.”
Does the relationship change over the years? Says Manu: “From being a scapegoat to my mischief, to a role model, and the only person I trust, apart from my parents, she has become a very special person in my life.” Becoming friends is only but natural. Ajay says it best: “When I was younger, I was quite a pest always troubling her, but, now we are best friends!”SUDHA UMASHANKER