“Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.”– Marc Brown
All of those who have brothers and are brothers, younger or elder, can probably relate to this. A brother drops us off for our parties and group studies, someone who lends us extra money when we fall short, someone who saves us from our parents and then scolds us himself. Small wonder then that Rakshabandhan is celebrated with such gusto in India.
Every Rakshabandhan my bua’s (dad’s sister) son Rahul would come over to our house and Natasha (my elder sister) and I would tie our rakhis to him. The Rakshabandhan of 2007 was however, the start of a new convention. Rahul had broken his left leg just 3 days before Rakhi. So when we went to meet him a couple of days before rakhi and bua told us how it won’t be possible for him to come for rakhi this year, Natasha and I were a little disappointed but then we wondered, how much difference can it make? So we went home and nothing really changed. On the day of rakhi, we woke up and realized that we didn’t really have a reason to get dressed since our brother wasn’t really coming home. But mummy forced us to get up and get dressed. So we did. And then bua came home and tied a rakhi on my dad’s wrist as we both saw. We sent rakhis for Rahul with her. But only when she tied the rakhi on our father’s wrist and mummy tied it on mama’s (mom’s brother) wrist did we realize how much we wanted a brother that very moment. And I started crying. At first, Natasha, two years elder to me, tried to console me, but eventually she started crying too.
We both, for the first time, realized that we wanted a brother too. Papa tried to calm us both down and took us out for lunch. But not even a Happy Meal could cheer us up that day. So when we came back home, mummy got us both a rakhi each and asked us to tie it to papa.
And we both just looked at her as if she had gone crazy because obviously, you’re supposed to tie a rakhi to your brother. Not your father. But then mummy explained. “Rakhi ke din ek bhai apni behan ko promise karta hai ke wo uski raksha karega. He’ll protect her from any harm that may come her way. Kya tumhare papa se better tumhe koi protect kar sakta hain?”
We looked at each other, and smiled. It was as if the solution to our biggest problem was right there. Mummy had made it so simple. So both of us ran to our room and washed our faces and fixed our hair and came back. We overheard mummy telling papa, “Aur kuch nahi toh it’ll give them a reason to come meet us. Shaadi k baad.” We heard papa laughing. He told mummy, “Mere bachho ko sabse achhii maa mili hai !”
That was true. Of course, it was. So that day, we tied rakhis to our father. After we had tied the rakhi he said, “Abb toh khush ho na dono? Mjhe do or rakhi milgayi and tumhe naya protector. But I promise to make you two capable enough to protect yourself.”
That day what he said didn’t make much sense to either of us and we were just glad we had someone to celebrate rakhi with. And that too our father, whom we knew would never let any harm come to us. Though now, seven years later, I realize how our father has kept that promise and made us capable enough of protecting ourselves.
And since that year, my sister and I tie a rakhi on my papa’s wrist and he’s protected us from every harm better than a brother probably could. It’s something that has strengthened my bond with my papa even more, and now I cannot imagine rakhi without him just like most women cannot imagine it without their brothers.