Readers Write In #257: This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

Posted on September 1, 2020


(by Rahini David)

I will never forget the day when I got super-excited about the influence of birth-order on personality and psychology. I had taken my daughter to a nearby park. She was 5. She was excited to meet her classmates, 2 twin girls who had also dropped in to play. It interested me that the responsibility of baby-sitting the energetic, fun twins was not entrusted to an adult but their 9-year-old elder sister. The absolute confidence of this young child was a sight to behold. She was responsible, attentive, kind and firm. She ensured not only that they had turns with the swing, but also that my daughter had her turn. She ensured that she made them slow down and drink water at regular intervals and she made sure that they left on time too. She was marvelous.

But the most important revelation came to me at lunch time in my office when I was talking to my friend about this wonder child and my friend said, “I wish their parents realize soon that their eldest daughter has only one childhood”. I could not help but realize belatedly that the 10-year-old did not have any fun time at all. I eventually saw her playing with her own friends when their mother was around to keep an eye on the younger girls. But on that day, there was no question that the girl had to leave child-like fun because of the responsibility entrusted to her. There was also no question that my friend was also the eldest daughter of her family. I absolutely understood where she was coming from.

It was like a revelation. I could not get enough for it. Did first-borns become more responsible than others? Did my brother have more leadership qualities than I did? Did the age-gap matter? What about my periyamma (my mom’s elder sister)? What about my periyathai (my dad’s elder sister)? I also found some examples that elder sisters like traditional attire like sarees and younger sisters liked modern clothes. There was almost a definite pattern.

Picture courtesy:

Analysis like this is fun only at the beginning. It comes apart at its seams when closely examined. My mother whom I am very close to found easy examples to point out the flaw in the birth-order theory of first born being more responsible leaders. It did not take too much time to throw out that theory. I still believe that middle-children are the best negotiators.

I also wrote about similar thoughts in this post.

There was also a time when I have been shocked at the level of affection a male friend had for Rajnikanth and when he eventually mentioned that he lost his father in mid-80s when he was a toddler, I instantly felt that he was seeing Rajnikanth as a father-figure. I am not saying that all Rajni fans or all big hero fans had absent fathers. I am merely saying that knowing that guy’s childhood made me see things a bit clearly. But what maybe true for him is not going to extend to all men who lost their father early or to all big hero fans.

These measurable numbers do throw light at relationships. People used to believe that a husband and wife should have a 5+ age difference. People don’t seem to think that anymore. People are going to base their decisions based on what they think the ideal difference is. It is not a terribly icky thought unless you allow yourself to be all judgmental about it and pester people who made decisions out of the norm.

But does all that matter? Can’t people have leadership qualities or negotiation abilities without us taking a lens to their family life? Can’t people have affection for celebrities without the need to scrutinize the inner working of their private lives?

But we all know where I am going with this, don’t we? Yes, it is about Isai and why I believe that the topics he chooses to discuss are inappropriate. Men here are discussing Islamophobia and Theory of Evolution and similarities between Yuvan’s music and Illayaraja’s music (or the other way around) in perfect peace but when Krishikari voices her thoughts about Engineering being over-emphasized by Indian parents she is requested (in interest of FULL DISCLOSURE) to divulge if her father or brother dabbled in the sciences. KS is left quietly alone. Isai is a concurrent auditor in this place. Female thoughts (and any icky emotions a female mind could have produced) should be accounted for by Isai and the accounts better tally by end of audit.

I am not trivializing Isai’s childhood experiences, I am not stepping over his right to comment at his favorite blog. I know we all air our out-of-topic comments here. I am just saying that there is a pink elephant in this room. I know that some people will consider this gate keeping and say that if BR has a problem with Isai’s content then he will take the appropriate measures. They will also say that Anu and Krishikari have their own free wills and are adult women entirely capable of taking care of themselves. They would also point out how easy it is going to be for me to completely scroll away from Isai’s comment. I agree with all that.

I just want to point out that BR was at perfect liberty to NOT post this article at his blog and that Isai is an adult completely capable of scrolling away from my comments to him. This September morning, I announce my intention to call out the pink elephant in the room. As often as I need to.

    • I want to emphasize that this was the backyard of their flats and there were known adults all around these girls, and I don’t want to make it sound as if their parents were not taking the safety of their 3 daughters into proper consideration.