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- Lata and Sivaram Srinivasan

To be different is natural. Read about Alaap and Arnav.

It is nature that helps us evolve. If we had two saplings near home - one an oak and the other a creeper, how futile to try and make the oak creep around the house and the sapling grow straight up towards the sky. We may partially succeed if we attempt to do so when they are saplings, but the end result would be an ugly creepy oak and an inelegant creeper. Both going against their nature due to external force. Both victims of the human notion that things should be as we want them to be, and not as they should naturally be.

So it is with our children when we try to mould them to our expectations. A little help is of course required. Both the creeper and the oak do get support soon after their birth. The oak is pointed towards the sky and the creeper, towards the house.

We have 12 year old twin boys. Their names are Alaap and Arnav. Right from birth we knew they were different in nature. Alaap was aggressive since day one and would bring the house down if his demands were not met. Arnav on the other hand was quiet and we had to make sure that we paid attention to his needs. As a toddler Alaap was taught to speak in English but his pronunciation was poor - The R's were pronounced L's and we were amused when he said "laining on the load" for "raining on the road". His pronunciation being poor whenever he said something we had to often turn to Arnav who was the only one who could flawlessly understand and correctly interpret Alaap's sentences. We always felt that they understood each other right from the womb. People often ask us whether they think alike. We still are not sure of the answer to that, but an incident (narrated by their teacher) comes to mind. In kindergarten, Alaap and Arnav were put in different sections (as we wanted them to socialize and not always be together). One day Alaap suddenly picked up his water bottle and dashed out of class to the next section where Arnav was choking on something. He gave him water, patted him and got back to class!

As they grow Alaap is turning out to be an outgoing, aggressive achiever, Arnav is cool, calm and methodical. Alaap is good at math and comfortable with chess and numbers. Arnav is good at art, music and struggles with math. Alaap is good at dancing but terrible at singing and music, Arnav is just the opposite and he just can't dance. Alaap likes only Indian food and rotis, Arnav likes Chinese, Continental and rice. Alaap will argue with authority for justice. Arnav will accept authority as ever 'right' and never to be challenged. Alaap is great at leading and dominating, Arnav is good at following and discipline. Alaap gives all impressions of being daring and bold but is afraid to ride the bike, learn to swim, roller-skate, etc. Arnav mastered the bike, skate and swim in no time and without any help. When they fight (which is often) Alaap rains blows, Arnav takes them though Arnav is stronger. The following lines from Shakespeare comes to mind as we watch Alaap and Arnav evolve into distinct personalities:

"Whether't is nobler in the mind to suffer, The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?

Arnav is majestically poised against setbacks in life. Alaap will draw his sword against fate itself.

Before they were born we always had this thought that people can be changed with training and that perhaps we could mould them so as to reduce these differences and make each a little more like the other in certain aspects. But now we know that there is a basic inner nature which if we tamper in too aggressive a manner, we may have an ugly creepy oak or an unnatural creeper.

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