Playing favourites | Society | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • Manual for the helicopter mom
    April 20, 2013
    What to do when the kids have grown and flown the nest. . . and then flown back?
  • Friends in faith
    April 6, 2013
    Spiritual groups are not only helping their members find 'answers' but also friends who have a karmic connect.
  • Erotica & ecstasy
    April 6, 2013
    India and Italy have many things in common, but perhaps the greatest is a shared zeal for romance, as this book of Indian love poems by an Italian…
More in this Section
Profiles
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy
Sibling rivalry

Playing favourites

|



Comparisons with a more successful sibling drive a man to despair and death.

I hate to remember him but it's not easy to forget either. I fondly addressed him as bhaiyya (elder brother) because he was older than me by about a decade. He was a frail young man who wore unfashionable Gandhian spectacles. And he was enviably brilliant. In fact, I had heard an uncle - and a man of literature himself - say that bhaiyya was the first young man he had met who could analyse Gunter Grass at the age of 18.

This was high praise since I, then a student of class I, wasn't capable of distinguishing between Grass and grass. But, even when bhaiyya discussed my homework with me, a kid in the neighbourhood, he dealt with my doubts with such confident fluency that I heard him out in hypnotised wonder.

Several years later, I had shifted base from Patna to New Delhi when a telephone call from my hometown left me numb. "Your bhaiyya has developed some grave mental problems, " the uncle's voice quivered, "He has been sent to an asylum. " What he said thereafter is lost in a haze.

Till then, my response to bhaiyya's talent oscillated between pure jealousy (since he was so much better than I was) and the desire to emulate him (as a struggling writer, I wanted to produce at least one sparkling sentence which could match up to his creative skills). But, during my saner moments, I always knew that all I wanted to do was understand and interpret literature the way he did.

When I left for Patna to be with my family a few days later, just one question occupied my mind. How did bhaiyya become mentally unstable? I asked around, but got evasive answers. "He was into drugs, it seems. " "He was reading too much, and talking to himself about what he read all the time. " "He wanted to become a world famous writer, but could not face the fact that he wasn't good enough. " None of the answers convinced me, till, one day, a distant cousin of his told me, "Bhaiyya went mad because he just could not handle comparisons with his bhaiyya, a scientist in England. He was subjected to taunts all day. He wasn't allowed to forget that his elder brother was a lot more accomplished than he was. "

Sibling rivalry is a fact of life most of us live with. What aggravates matters is when parents and relatives make comparisons. Why bhaiyya's kin needed to be so sadistic beats me. All I could do was hope that he would come back home one day. I prayed that it would happen soon.

Exactly one year later, when I went to Patna on my annual visit, I saw bhaiyya on the street. He looked shockingly untidy, knotted, thick wild hair falling to his shoulders. One lens of his Gandhian spectacles was broken and he wore a pair of torn shorts which seemed like they had not been washed in ages. He looked lost - till he saw me. I was wondering if he would even recognise me when he walked up to me and said: "Come on. It's been a long time. Let us discuss books. " That evening he told me a mix of stories: some from literature, and a few from his life including how he could never understand why he needed to be compared with his brother all the time. I sat quietly, hearing him out. For some strange reason, I could not help feeling that I was talking to my idol for the last time.

It was after I went back to New Delhi that I heard the inevitable. "Your bhaiyya passed away. His body was found on the balcony of his bungalow. " Uncle had delivered bad news again. Somehow, I was a lot less upset than I was when I had heard about his him being admitted to an asylum. I had always believed, and I still do, that bhaiyya could have given a lot to the world if comparisons hadn't killed him. By dying young (he was barely in his mid-30 s), however, he had finally found peace.

Reader's opinion (1)

Poonam KeshwaniMay 4th, 2012 at 20:12 PM

here's something each parent needs to take care of. never compare your kids. talens differ, and each child will flower... at his own pace.

 
Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik | MensXP.com

Networking

itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Hotklix
Services
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service