“Little Red Riding Hood”- the fable was in my English Reader in Standard II. Pictures in colour of the little girl in the forest , picking up wild flowers and in great spirits, en-route to her grandmother who lived in a cottage in a clearing deep in the forest still is etched in memory. And then the cunning wolf dressed up in her grandmother’s clothes and cuddled up in bed!
Cinderella, in the carriage drawn by white horses on her way to Prince’s Ball; the little Snow White and her dwarfs. Alice and her fascinating encounter with the Rabbit and other creatures was in the Radiant Reader in, I guess Standard Three. There was the story of Peggy in her red satin frock in another lesson, which pictured a model family living in the English country side. Then, of course the Sleeping Beauty and King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, but certainly not to forget the outlawed hero Robin Hood.
Well, being put in an English medium convent, I was as a little boy more in sync with these characters and allegories such as their stories. Those stories drew and crafted an image and concept that proved to be enduring and inerasable. I guess that will be one among the few good things in me.
I was a sort of a loner in childhood - belligerent, delinquent and a rebel through adolescence and teen. Being eldest of two children and my sibling being a girl a few years younger to me, there was a lot of closeness that one felt to a sister who shared the same womb. I can recall that the protagonist and central characters in all those fables I mentioned was consciously and subconsciously identified to the only person I was to be with, at home, en-route to school, during recess and all the while, my sister. The wicked wolf was identified with the most disliked person, I then presumed and hence a threat to my sister. The villainous queen and Cinderella’s step mother to any woman who was as I felt rude to my sister. I wondered what would happen if she were to fall down through into a hole like poor Alice. It happened that she had a deep red frock, which she wore on certain days and I was proud that she could be identified with the pretty little Peggy. Mother once mentioned I becoming uncontrollably agitated and wanted to smack the nurse who inflicted a hypodermic injection on the little girl and she wailed.
Often in later life in my adolescence and teens, I became quite a loner, because I felt that a brother in place of a sister would be more of fun and jubilation. As she grew into her teens the distance came about in communication and I now feel was natural that a girl was bound then by a limitation of being a girl. That applied to the relationship with, be it the father or big brother. She moved closer to our mother and two women are definitely a bigger force than one!
But I introspect much of the bond that stayed within me, as it was seldom exposed. More because, I guess was due to the conventions and social behaviors then, that one seldom exhibited any visible and excited affection to a woman, be it your sibling or mother. And the same applies now and continues to this day.
Looking back a few years, I compare with my two children and their exasperating fights and complaints of bullying by the other. Often it was the girl who is younger who cried wolf and alleged offence from the brother. And indeed he used to peck her beyond once patience. But what I noticed, in his angry facial expressions and seemingly violent act of hurting her was that the act was only an act. When he seemingly held her wrist and twisted, forcing a shrill outcry from her in pain, it was obvious that he was only feigning and had not hurt her even a whisker. The drama was hers and she deemed to be her prerogative.
That was in their childhood. When they matured into teens, I find the bond and affection manifest and strong as I hoped it would be. I feel till now, content that they imbibed in their body chemistry what I feel is inviolable necessity- affection and love for ones sibling. I tell them often that relationships that might come into their lives in the years ahead may dissuade them from being solace, succor and encouragement in life for the other. But, they ought to ensure that the subject matter is not negotiable, because if they must claim to be a life form greater in sum to beast, then they have to be different from beast. And a rightful and conscientious man or woman who comes into their lives will not trade for that.
The ironical fact and the incongruity that I notice around is that, it is more often a lopsided matter as it often is in real life.