The Thing About Siblings.

My family, er, layout is a little complicated compared to most families. I grew up as an only child, but I had a half-brother, and my half-brother had a half-brother who also sort of felt like my brother, except I never really saw them. They lived in Muscat, and later moved to New York. I'd speak to my brother's brother, who, fuck it, is my brother, on birthdays. My brother and I were more in touch, but off and on. We'd go through phases where we talked a lot, and then we didn't talk, and then we'd talk a lot again.

It was a strange kind of set-up, but because it was the only thing I'd ever known, I never thought of it as strange. But then, I started growing up, and I'd meet people, and inevitably, I would be asked the question - "Do you have any siblings?"

My god. The horror. It was always the one question I dreaded. I never knew the answer.

I felt like an only child because I grew up as an only child. But I did have a brother. And my brother had a brother. But that was just such a long story. So my options were this:

1) I am an only child.

2) I have a brother.

3) I have two brothers.

4) I cannot answer your question.

I usually just mixed up options 1-3. And I was always fair. If I told someone I was an only child, I'd tell the next person that I had a brother, and the person after that would hear about two brothers, and then I'd go back to being an only child again.

See what I mean? Horror-ful.

But they both moved back to India when I was a teenager, and I got to know them better then. And now that I'm living with my brother - for the first time in my life - I finally know what it's like to really really have a sibling.


But I'm in an unfair position. I'm eight years younger, physically weaker, and dependent on the aforementioned brother for a roof over my head. What does this mean? It means I have no power.

And let me tell you people something: having no power sucks. IT SUCKS. IT SUCKETH. My brother is very aware of this and is determined to take advantage of it. We're eerily alike. If I'd have been in his position, I'd have done the same. But I'm not. Therefore the suckage.

He makes up songs about me. They are all variations of this line: "Trishi-fishy is a loser." And the tune he uses is the Spice Girls' Wannabe which I tried turning into a weapon. I failed. And what bugs me is this: he's not being witty. He's being stupid. But whatever he's doing is working, because I have no response. Do I make up a song about him and sing it? But that's just being a copycat. Do I ignore him? Ignoring him is so sad, it's like I'm not sharp enough to come up with a good comeback.

(I fear I'm not sharp enough to come up with a good comeback. It's like that song strips me of what wit I like to think I have.)

Physical violence, I only use now and then, when he really pisses me off. But even that only serves to highlight my weakness because he's 6 foot tall and weighs a lot more than I do. He basically just wraps his arms around me and lifts me off the ground while I kick ineffectually at the air. Or he bends my wrist back until I start shouting: a shout that carries with it heart-rendering tones of rage, pain and humiliation.

Unfortunately my brother doesn't have a heart to, er, render.

We get on each other's nerves occasionally. He objects to the fact that I hang my towel over his towel, that I don't squeeze toothpaste from the bottom (apparently this is a crime worthy of hell), and that I'm lazy and undisciplined, and that I'm spoiled and flighty, and that...the list goes on.

I mostly object to the fact that I'm not in a position to object to anything.

But the thing about siblings is, I guess, they keep it real. Even more than parents do. And my brother is a particular fan of keeping it real.

"Trisha, you're an extremely fucked up person."

I launch into a huge speech demonstrating my lack of fucked up-ness.

"Shut up. Don't make excuses. Never make excuses."

Alright, I said. I won't make excuses. But what do you think I should do about it?

"Stop talking."

And then he passes me a joint and we settle down to watch Buffy with SIL. And it's in those moments, when I'm sitting between my brother and sister watching vampires get annihilated, with three dogs leaping around us trying to eat each other, and my stepmother popping her head into the room to rant about some sort of social injustice, and the tree over the balcony rustling its leaves to add to the commotion...it's in those moments that I feel safe and loved and happy. It's in those moments that I really, really appreciate having a sibling. Especially one like my brother.

And there I sit, bathed in fraternal love.

Until the off-tune strains of 'Trishi-fishy is a loser' start up again.

1 comment:

Sabz said...


I like your writing. The voice. The tone.

It is Trish. Certainly not trash.