There is a thin line between sibling rivalry and bullying. Most of the times, parents ignore the bullying part, as any other sibling fight. But they don’t quite realise how they are harming both of them.
The bully gets a sense of accomplishment of having bullied a weaker one. She’s the one who knows about the latest fashion magazines and can drop brand names in regular conversations as matter of factly. Oh, and she’s all but thirteen. You call her on her birthday to wish her happy 13th, and she gushes, ‘oh, i am so excited to be a teenager now’. She has recently discovered her sexuality, which is normal, she is an adolescent, the age at which you become aware of yourself. And this is when she starts wearing skimpy skirts and clothes straight out of movies and loud make up. I am 25, and bloody, I don’t even own a lipstick.
And then, the worst of all, she lies. Cousins, same age, born 15 days apart, she wants to be more loved, more pampered. She knows how to manipulate her mum, who holds a grudge against the other girl and get her to scream at her. How can an aunt hold a grudge against her own niece? Oh, hello? You think your life is one big fat sooraj barjatiya movie? shitty things happen, and this is one of them. Perhaps manipulate is too strong a word to be used, but hey, kids these days are way more aware of things than we were when we were their age. I mean when I was 13, these girls were born, and I just knew I was allowed to hold them once in my lap under an adult supervision. Try giving an instruction to kids these days. Perhaps it’s just the kind of upbringing. But I’d probably judge it and call it bad parenting.
Her mother posts her photographs on facebook and comments herself, ‘how beautiful’, ‘gorgeous’, ‘perfect’. I know the only person in the world who thinks i’m pretty is my mother. also, maybe sister, but they also point out i have flaws. She is the smartest girl in the entire class because well, she knows so much about fashion. She only wears clothes from united colours of benetton. Oh, and she only spent 6,000 rupees for the skirt she wore on her 13th birthday party. that too when there was a sale. she is never wrong. and her mother panics when she gets less than 85 percent marks. she is so bright, how can she score less marks?
What will happen when she grows up and realises she’s not the most awesome thing she is made to believe she is? One fine day, she’ll grow up and see that people her age are smarter than she is? More popular than she is? Will she ever realise that there is more to a person than the brand she wears?
If you think that was bad, what about the one she is bullying? same age girl, born 15 days apart? She has lost an elder sister 2 years back to a mysterious illness. the cause of the illness was never known. she suffered for 8 years before she breathed her last breath. When she was alive, she used to bully her younger sister. I’d let it go, because she was bedridden, and she was a child. she would have wanted to go about playing, but she had broken bones, enlarged liver and she knew she was dying.
But other than her, the other girl was also bullied by the first one. no one believed her when she said the first one cheated, because, well, she never would cheat. and the mother-daughter duo would together bully this little girl. it pained me every single time i was around.
the little girl’s grandmother, her father’s mother, once accused her of stealing. all she had done was hide her grandmother’s 20 rupees because she was rude to her mother. there have been times when i have wanted to slap her grandmother. i have avoided any kind of social gathering which would involve me coming on same platform as her. even though the older girl’s death was inevitable because of the medical condition, they made her death even more painful. i had once made an elaborate plan on calling anonymously to police station and get them booked under child abuse.
coming back, the little girl lacks self confidence. you ask her simplest arithmetic question, she would not answer. when she is having a milk chocolate bar, she would always, always share. if she is eating a bowl full of pomegranate, she will insist you take a handful of them, even if you don’t like them. She is in constant need of validation. she has zero fashion sense. she tries to ape the ‘fashionista’ of the house, and no points for guessing, gets ridiculed, publicly by the cousin and her mother.
her grades in school are slipping. not slipping because well, she was never at the top. she barely manages to pass. her mother, is a different species altogether. i don’t even want to get on to that. one day, at a gathering at naani’s place, i just couldn’t take their shit any more. i took her with me for a drive, and got her a McDonald’s burger and fries and all that she wanted to eat, and she cried. she cried and cried and i felt so helpless. it is so much easier to tell strangers to be nice to their kids, but way more difficult to tell that to family. they are in constant denial.
i am worried what will happen when she grows up? how will she survive the bigger bullies? bad bosses? other failures and setbacks life throws at you? And how will she survive successes? will she feel guilty of successes she gets? trust me when i say, when you have been a victim of being bullied, you feel guilty for every pleasure in your life.
more than me, her parents need to understand she is being bullied, they need to take a firm stand on this.
bullying is serious and it needs to be dealt with seriously when it is so unhealthy.
till then, i am trying to invent new ways to avoid family gatherings.
am i an escapist? maybe I am. maybe i am just being little selfish here. it breaks my heart every time i am around the group. might as well just avoid them.