Only-Children

Sibling rivalry is inevitable. The only sure way to avoid it is to have one child. - Nancy Samalin There was a writing prompt coinciding with my brother's birthday. The question was, "How would your life be different if you had grown up without any siblings?"

The most obvious thing that crossed my mind was my severely retarded sense of fashion. I would not have delayed dressing up femininely for thirty years if it weren't for their sake; just to make sure that they grew up into real men and that the clothes I passed on to them would fit social approval.

I'm glad that has passed. I still walk like a drag queen when I'm in high-heels, but I'm better at coloring my nails. No worries.

Sometimes, when I try to write stories about siblings, I always stop at the part where the siblings scream at and strangle each other. I break sweat and my fingers become paralyzed under the scrutiny of the almighty super-ego. Until a laughing-memory passes and pats me with pardons. "No, you only wished you did that."

So I might have become a better crime writer, a wilder free-thinker if I did not have siblings. Who cares what the Bronte sister and Stephen King wrote? It wasn't weird enough compared to the worlds that Nietzsche, Iris Murdoch & EM Forster created.

I sound fictional. Heck, only-children are easier to fictionalize. If they keep their parents, they are showered with undivided love and attention from start to end, and a lot of them achieve amazingly because of that. There is no such thing as too much love and attention, see? If you think about it; there are 335 million only-children in China since 2009. Most of them are boys. Just you wait. Eventually, all the Makkis and Ghamdis and Zahranis will become Tangs, Liongs and Chans.

Anyway, I have always thought that our youngest was the favorite. He was everybody's favorite. Poor thing. The ones who got the belt grew disproportionately faster. Hence, for all the years our youngest missed out on beatings and abuses, he has got to make up for them by attending our parents the longest. Such is the life of the only-child and the youngest in the family.

So maybe if I didn't have siblings, I wouldn't have become as highly-mobile and independent as I used to be.

(I'm not as nomadic as before; I am someone's only-child after all. And I am fenced with love and dutiful service that gives freedom another kind of meaning. The kind that youngest and only-children understand.)

Siblings are people we practice with. Now that they are grown up, I feel like I've done my practice. Like, I myself am done. With life. With newness. With children. You know?

What was the question again? "What kind of person would I have become if I weren't born the eldest?"

4 comments:

  1. Only-child? I've been there.

    But I don't want to comment on that. I rather admit I enjoy this explosion of posts. It reminds me of Simon Vestdijk ( a compatriot author) about whom people said: "He writes faster than God can read".

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  2. Did Vestdijk go on writing/thinking vacation for a year too and then impulsively just got on a month long posting challenge until his fingers bled, Colson? What happened to him after that? The resources on him are mostly in Dutch. Tsk. Did you know him personally?

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  3. @ Hning: V. lived around the corner ( well, some 8 kilometres away), however we shook hand only once - and I'm sure even then he hardly noticed me. Which is obvious because he was an intellectual giant and I was/am a dwarf.

    Though I enjoy reading your posts as I did enjoy his novels and essays, I agree there are some differences between the two of you. I doubt whether his fingers ever bled. In an interview he was asked how he could physically manage to be such an extremely prolific author, he answered: "Why that? You write sitting after all,don't you".

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  4. You made me giggle, Colson. (^_^)

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