I studied in a co-ed school. A large chunk of the crowd believed that a girl and a guy could never be just friends (yeah, we’re all idiots in school). Also, girls (and boys) believed that by the mere virtue of a thread tied on their wrists, boys became their brothers and hence couldn’t ask them out. So there were best of friends tying rakhis on their best guy friends’ wrists and there were the hot chics, carrying the thread, threatening to take away a guy’s right to admire them and love them like Rahul loves K k k k kiran. Of course, the overly cheesy emotional adverts by greeting card companies don’t exactly make the festival very exciting to me. But I like the history behind it, and I love how every raksha bandhan, somehow every brother gets protective of the sister, despite the fact that he spends the rest of the 364 days irritating the hell out of her!
Well, there are many stories behind this tradition, some related to Lord Indra, some to Krishna and Draupadi. All the stories essentially talk about a bond, a bandhan. With the silk thread, the sister gives the brother her good wishes, her blessings which act as his strength and the brother promises to protect the sister from all evils.
Cute, no? I think so too. However, I do wonder, what happens if you don’t have a brother? Who, then, will protect you from all evils? I don’t have a brother. I am one of two sisters and the elder one. To me, Raksha Bandhan was about tying the Rakhi to my cousin brothers, who in turn gave me presents. I didn’t care if they protected me or not, but as long as there were presents wrapped in shiny papers, I was happy. Then I started growing up. As the eldest of all the cousins from both maternal and paternal sides, I thought it was my duty to stand up for the younger cousins and fight their battles for them. So, if they had trouble in school, I’d merrily sort it out. If there were mean girls troubling my sister, I went straight to the girls and jhapped them. And then, I thought, I offer ‘raksha’ so to speak, why the hell won’t my cousins tie me a rakhi? Why should the brother be the only one to get the honour? My mom bought my theory. From that day on, me and my sister tied a rakhi to each other. Of course, we also gift each other things. It started with a pen that we wanted to writing pads that we need for the unit tests that happened around the same time as rakhi. Until recently it went to buying nice dinners for each other… And this year, my sister is away.
I have been one of the girls from my school, yes. I have tied rakhis to numerous guys. I don’t even know where they are or what they do, but at that point they were my friends and well, rakhi was something that was celebrated quite enthusiastically in school. But now, all that matters is the promise that the rakhi stands for. The festival is now all about pampering your siblings. And the promise has changed too. My sister is an independent, intelligent woman who lives all by herself in a different country, a different culture. She doesn’t need me to protect her. But I can promise her this. When she needs to rave, I’ll be here.
When she wants to rant, I’ll be here.
If she needs to splurge, I’ll hand her my credit card.
If she needs advice, I’ll do what I can and point her in the right direction.
If she wants comfort, I’ll bake for her my coconut cupcakes.
If she needs a jolt, I’ll give her the kick on the backside.
If she needs encouragement, I’ll be the hand that pushes her.
And on a day when nothing makes her laugh, I’ll be the goofy older sister and I’ll do anything to get those dimples to appear on her cheeks.
Because that’s what sisters do.