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In the 80’s, people didn’t understand boundaries so well, and a friend or family member or even a neighbour would turn around and ask you, "Don’t you miss having a brother or sister?"
I was born in the 1980’s. The glorious 80’s, I call them. Yes, that was the time when Nirula’s was the coolest place in town, winter weekend afternoons were spent picnicking at India Gate, and most children had a sibling (sometimes two).
It wasn’t surprising then that growing up as an only child in a time and place when only children weren’t the norm, always made me feel like an exception to the rule.
Now don’t get me wrong. Just because I didn’t have a sibling doesn’t mean that I necessarily yearned for one. Most of the time, I was actually happy with the way things were, after all, I had the undivided attention of my parents which in itself was truly fabulous. Besides, we had a big extended family and I had lots of friends as well.
Of course, the 80’s were a time when the people around you didn’t understand boundaries that well and it was nothing out of the ordinary for a friend or family member or even a neighbour to turn around and ask you, ‘Don’t you miss having a brother or sister?’ Then there were some who really crossed the line by passing a remark like, ‘It’s very important to have a brother who will take care of you. You must have a brother.’ I have to confess that I didn’t consider it worth my while to tell them that I was perfectly capable of taking care of myself, thank you very much!
I daresay, being an only child did turn me into an independent and self-reliant person. I learnt to fend for myself, could keep myself entertained and eventually even realized that I truly enjoyed my own company. Music was my faithful companion, as were books. All in all, I was happy, satisfied and content with my lot.
Admittedly, the festival of Raksha Bandhan was the exception to this general feeling of contentment. After all, it is the one day that can cause a severe case of FOMO in the otherwise lovely life of a single child.
Being a very private person, I also found it challenging to express this, and of course there were no FOMO hashtags back then. Nevertheless, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t ever feel a pang when I saw other people celebrating the festival with their siblings. I did have cousins though which softened the blow.
And of course the 80’s were also a time when the concept of Rakhi brothers and sisters was a rage. To give myself credit, I had quite a few of those. Rakhi brothers, I mean. And to give them credit, they were lovely too, each one of them. All in all, despite dreading the annual tradition, I did manage to tide myself through it every year without too much drama.
Over the years, I learnt to accept the pros and cons of my single-child status. Today, I can safely say that focusing on myself helped me discover different facets to my own personality.
I have learnt to spend time with myself and truly enjoy the experience. I have realized how important it is to be self-sufficient and take pride in my accomplishments. I have made and nurtured some wonderful relationships too, which have filled my life with love and companionship. I value the relationship I share with my husband and son (who also happens to be a single child). I have learnt to cherish the time I spend with my parents and bask in their undivided attention. And most importantly, I have learnt that relationships aren’t always about sharing the same blood. Of course, it is wonderful to have that too but sometimes, a relationship can transcend all that.
And that is exactly the kind of relationship that I have with my older brother. No, we don’t share any blood ties, none at all. Yet there is an unconditional love between us. We are there for each other. We have each other’s back. And I can safely say that even though we weren’t born into the same family, he is the best brother I could have wished for.
Ultimately, being an only child in a time when it wasn’t so common taught me one more thing. It taught me to do things my way. To celebrate my individuality.
In fact, I have to say that in that sense, I do connect and identify more with the current generation. Today, single children are no longer the exception. They might not be the norm either, but they’re definitely a growing trend. In fact, often a Gen Z child is considered lucky if he or she even has a close first cousin around the same age.
What then does this day mean to this generation? How do they identify with it, how do they celebrate?
Well, I see them celebrating with their families, friends and loved ones. Just like we did. I see them spending time with themselves. Planting trees. Protecting the environment. Helping someone in need. Adopting a pet. Reading a book. Counting their blessings. Spreading the love.
After all, isn’t that what this day is all about? A celebration of the beautiful bond of love and care that exists between human beings? So let’s teach our children to do that. Here’s wishing all of you a very happy Raksha Bandhan.
Image source: Tathya from Getty Images Free for Canva Pro
Rrashima is a senior corporate analyst with over 20 years of experience in the corporate sector. She is also a prolific writer, novelist and poet and her articles, stories and poems are regularly published in read more...
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