The images of rakhis being shared on Facebook presents a very different picture of the traditional festival of Raksha bandhan. The memories of those days when I would excitedly sift through rows and rows of colorful rakhis to find the perfect one for my little brother have been dropping by since the last few visits to the Indian stores here in the US now that the store has been showcasing its stock of Rakhis for over a month now. Although Raksha Bandhan is not celebrated in southern India with the fervor that it is observed in the northern parts of India, it has been a part of our family celebrations for as long as I can remember. Of course, off late thanks to Bollywood and the serials on satellite television, festivities are being borrowed across all borders and regions.
As a kid I remember even I used to get to sport a Rakhi :-) My mom would tie one on my wrist after I tied one to my brother just so that we both could show it off :-P While as a kid, Rakhi was just another festival when we got to wear colored clothes and enjoy sweets and sport colorful threads, as I grew older I realized it celebrates a very special bond, a unique friendship and camaraderie that exists between siblings. Now while Rakhi is traditionally about brother protecting the sister and sister praying for his well-being, I feel it goes far beyond that. It is about the invisible force that binds you to your family and the strong connection that siblings share irrespective of the gender. It is a promise of a lifetime that is made unconditionally.
For someone who was not quite happy at the entry of a new kid to my home that seemed to grab everyone's attention away from me to someone who is now sad that her little kid brother is now across the oceans and timezones, my brother and me have come a long way. Yes, I admit I was not happy when I first saw a scrawny little baby in my mother's arms with pink ears and tiny, slender hands and feet. But soon he became my partner in fun and mischief, my trusted aide in everything I did. We still have our share of wild secrets, secrets that are so hush hush that even we have forgotten their true versions and only remember bits of what was fun to us at that age and in those times. All the wild, crazy games that we played during the vacations, some of them our own silly inventions, the now seemingly stupid-sounding names we used to call one another, the fights we have had, some of them quite serious, so much so that we didn't speak to each other for hours before patching up after mother's intervention or in some cases our own attempts at mollification using toffees and toys and funny faces and sounds are all treasured memories that are simply priceless. Each time I eat a chocolate, I remember how if one of us got a chocolate at school or from some friend we would not gobble it but instead bring it back home and share it no matter how small it was or how out of shape it got after melting. We learnt so much from each other, he taught me how to ride a bicycle, many technical fixes while I taught him the neat way of doing a whole bunch of things. While the elder-sister in me gave advices liberally, I have been stumped at times by the wisdom he has dished out to me. The times that we were apart when we were in hostels at different times made me realize how hard it was for me to be without my closest friend and confidant.
Although we are now both responsible grown-ups, to me he'll always remain just my little kid brother whom I can boss over as the elder sister, whom I care for beyond words can ever express and who I know cares for me just as much. We will remain for ever partners in fun and mischief, in tears and in laughter. And today when my connection to my dear brother is through the invisible waves and webs courtesy the communication systems of the world, I know the priceless links of heart that we share will only grow stronger over time adding to the fond memories that we cherish.