There’s hardly anything in art and pop culture to help one deal with a fight with your sibling
My brother and I would wrestle a lot when we were kids.
He would resort to a few pseudo-choke-slam-like techniques he learnt from WWE, and fail.
I was more a natural who flailed her limbs about, hoping they’d find their mark. More often than not, they did.
Fights between us siblings were a lot simpler back then.
Mother always intervened to end our skirmishes. She would tell us how it was wrong to hit each other (or anyone), all the while reminding us that we will be the ones to have each other’s back when she isnt around later.
As years passed, we thankfully realised it wasn’t quite right to fist-fight.
But the fights didn’t stop.
In our twenties, we hurt each other with words.
If I was too caustic with mine, his were too condescending to bear.
We still haven’t fully healed from the bitter things we have said to each other throughout the last decade. So, we don’t do that anymore either.
Now, we hurt each other with silence.
A silence that lasts a few hours, days, weeks …
This time, it has lasted over a month. A month of him not sending me a random interesting fact about the world or a pun related to said fact. A month of me not sending him assorted screenshots and forwards from my chats with other people. A month of us not calling each other to discuss how to convince the mother about something, anything.
Doesn’t help that once you grow up, you realise you are the intervention you need to end these fights. And that’s asking for too much out of you sometimes.
Memory makes things worse. It unfailingly keeps throwing all the not-so-good-but-still-good times at me. Like this one time in college when he had come to meet me in Chandigarh from our hometown Kurukshetra and told me he had lost his best friend, Buzo, our family’s German Shepherd, to a heat stroke.
We sat under a tree in Sector 17’s market, in silence. It was mournful, it was also peaceful. It was a moment that was only ours.
I’m also reminded of the time silence actually helped us siblings avoid another silent war in the making. This was from a few years ago when he had returned home from abroad after a while and I was quite excited to spend time with him. In a rare occurrence, I even took a few days off from work which my then boss Ravi was happy to give.
When I came home though, I felt he had no time for me, seeing him surrounded by his friends who had also arrived at our place from everywhere.
It wasn’t his fault that everyone wanted a piece of him. Nevertheless, I decided to cut the trip short and leave sooner than I had initially planned. When he asked, I told him it was for work. He didn’t seem upset.
He went into the kitchen to get my food since I hadn’t eaten until then. On his way to my room, he noticed the curry had paneer in it. I was avoiding dairy religiously back then because I had just been diagnosed with PCOS. He went on to remove every single piece of cottage cheese from the curry with a spoon.
I couldn’t be angry at him after that.
Last week, I told my husband in a casual conversation that “I am a human.” Normally, that sentence is followed by me adding “though my brother has doubts and often asks me if I feel like laughing at this statement …”
That day, I didn’t feel like laughing.
This whole thing feels like heartbreak, but I have no breakup songs or romcoms to fall back on or find myself in. Because they either talk about lovers or friends.
As a sibling missing her brother while we are amidst a cold war, I feel severely under-represented in art and (pop) culture. There’s hardly anything there to help me deal with this.
The upside to this is that there aren’t many siblings of social media thrusting their bond in my face, at least.
The obvious downside is that I have to deal with it on my own … until one of us sends an emoji to the other, or a message “by mistake”, or responds directly to the other’s message on one of the many family WhatsApp groups that both of us are members of.
Maybe all of the above will happen soon. Or my bestie will end up texting him to tell him that I miss him, even though I have categorically told her not to.
Until then, I will ruminate and rant.
It’s one of those things that feels like therapy but really isn’t.
Read more about families here: