"So, when are you having another baby?" is a question I'm often asked. And the reason I'm told I should have one is - "children need a companion".
Looking at the Anil-Mukesh saga - and hundreds of similar sagas among lesser mortals all around us - I have to say, there is simply NO guarantee that you and your sibling are going to get along for life.
So having extra kids just to give the first one a 'friend' is, I think, not a good enough reason. Not anymore.
Zamaana badal gaya
"Things fall apart," wrote the novelist Chinua Achebe. "The centre cannot hold..." And that describes - exactly - what is happening to the whole concept of family. In India and the world over.
The "centre" was based on two principles:
a) Zaroorat - or need
b) Farz - or duty
In the caveman era, we hunted and lived in packs - it was a matter of basic needs: security, survival.
In time, religion brought in values like "Honor thy father" (every faith has its own version - but similar in spirit).
So that was farz - or duty - which bound us to each other. Although one had to sacrifice some amount of individuality on the altar of farz, in return you gained an identity and some amount of social security (the family/ community would always be there for you).
And what about love, you might ask. Isn't love what really keeps families together? To which I must say - love is a factor. But minus farz and zaroorat it's just not sticky enough.
Hum saath saath kyun rahein?
That's a question families across India have been asking over the last couple of decades. The answer is - we don't have to.
In fact contrary to what Kyunki Saas may depict, the modern day mother-in-law is often quite clear that SHE would rather not stay with son and bahu.
Tum apni zindagi jeeyo, hum apni - I've heard more than one aunt say. In good humour on the surface, but deadly serious really!
On the other hand, some bahus (esp working women) choose to live with their in-laws reasoning it will be good for their kids. So again, that's zaroorat kicking in.
Paise ki maaya
Income levels have everything to do with it. Money can't buy you love, sang the Beatles but what's clear is it can certainly create a lot of acrimony where love once existed.
There's a general pattern to family break-ups:
a) Poor-to-Rich phase: Your extended family is an asset. You have nothing else, so your gain your wellbeing from your relationships.
b) Rich-to-Things Fall Apart phase: Brothers who once ate sukhi roti from the same thaali, lubricated by the ghee of filial love, now eat rasmalai in fine china plates.
But one starts feeling the other's plate is fancier. Or rasmalai sweeter. Spouses too play a role here ...
Now often brothers will live and work together for years, despite these feelings. But once the patriarch of the family passes away - things fall apart. Farz - or duty - is no more.
Then, comes the question of zaroorat Do we really NEED each other - or can we manage our lives/ business quite well alone, thank you?
In the Anil-Mukesh saga the feeling of zaroorat pretty much evaporated. Which is why it became impossible for them to co-exist.
c) Separate-but-Social phase: We meet, we smile - at birthdays and weddings. But - in most cases - it's never ever going to be one big happy family. Except in faded photographs.
I say this because I have SEEN things fall apart in my own extended family. The love and togetherness my 3 chachas once shared living in a cramped 3 room house didn't survive the tectonic shift to a two storeyed mansion.
Things have fallen so apart that certain people don't even talk to certain other people.
Pyaar kiya to kya..
So that's the extended family bit. But even with the nuclear family, it's more often zaroorat and farz which keeps things together.
If you go in for an arranged marriage - love in any case, you hope, follows the event. Or is born out of it.
And if you have a love marriage, 5 years down the line what keeps many couples together is the joint 'projects' - your kids, your mortgage, your status in society.
And I'm not saying that is a BAD thing as long as if not love, there is at least 'like a lot' in the picture...
When we talk of commitment - what is it but farz anyways? Partly imposed by society, and partly a value we choose to commit ourselves to. While "love" at the end of the day is a zaroorat... A basic human need.
But the need for space - and individuality - is becoming more and more important. And these needs are at odds with 'love'. And a million mutinies are born everyday...