(Originally published in Us Magazine, The News International)
|Some years ago I got a chance to go to KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) for a short time period. It was a good place to live in but we had to move back after a while. Unlike many kids, I didn’t feel any difficulty in adjusting back to the desi lifestyle. The way I see it; I was, even then at the age of six, the patriot-to-the-core-of-my-heart, which I am today.
Now almost a decade later, I feel I am suffering from a very-very long delayed attack of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Don’t get me wrong, I do love my country. What compelled me to hypothesise that I am a PTSD sufferer, though, is a different story. I hate the lame theory of ‘Brothers are our saviours’. I am the eldest of three sisters and it irks me when people look at me sympathetically if I tell them that I don’t have a brother. It amazes me how, in our part of the world, a brother has so much importance.
Almost everyone in our society has this irritating habit of peeping into others’ lives. They think that they have a born right to decide whether the other person’s happy or otherwise. It is like tagging someone without his or her permission. Or coming to someone’s wedding uninvited.
Wherever I go people – especially aunties – wonder how I move around in this society without a brother (to protect me) and some even have the guts to say it out loud. I remember the time when my math teacher asked me how many siblings I had. I told him we were three sisters and no brother. The moment I uttered ‘no brother’ I instantly realised I had committed the mistake of the century! What he did next was expectedly agonising. He made this really strange face; it looked as if he was trying to convey his condolence to me. For your information, I didn’t appreciate this ‘condolence’ – at all.
I thought that it’s just the generation difference and with more education and time, this perception would gradually evolve and then diminish. You know what? I was wrong. I was bewildered that my class-fellow, who was of own age, thought the same way as my fifty year old aunt. She asked me if I felt sad that I don’t have a brother. I replied that I didn’t and she wasn’t able to understand my point of view and hastily concluded that when I’ll grow up I’ll feel the difference… yeah right!
Sadly, brothers are mistaken as superheroes in our misogynist society and many think that without them a girl would not be able to ‘survive’ in this cruel world. There is another notion that girls without elder male siblings tend to become spoilt, and are more likely to fall prey to bad company.
I am a teenage girl and so far the experience, they call life, has been great. Sure if I had a brother I would have loved him like I love my sisters – maybe even more, but now that I don’t have one I can’t complain, can I? We, the humans, cannot do anything but be content with what He has blessed us with. Not everything we want or plan materialises. There are no guarantees in life, only promises and hopes. And in the midst of it all, we can only count on ourselves neither our brothers nor anyone else.
A sincere friend once taught me a great lesson. She didn’t have any mamu and I asked her, sheepishly, if she regretted having none – oh wait, or was it khala? Honestly, I don’t even remember now. But she said that she didn’t think about those whom she didn’t have in her life. She was right. Thinking about people and things you don’t have will only make you envious of others. Crying and whining about what you don’t have will just make you depressed. It may even cause you to forget about those you hold close and dear.
If we amend our ways and try to be better humans, we won’t need anyone else to rely upon. All the girls out there without brothers… don’t feel miserable. Now that I think of it, it’s common knowledge that daughters are more obedient than sons. I am not saying that sons aren’t compliant but it’s just that girls tend to have more emotions than boys. So girls… don’t worry, be happy! Oh and if you’re one of those 20th Century aunties (or their ally) I have got one small request, please get yourself engaged in some constructive activity, and stop bothering people around you.