As we do every year, this year too, the Rakhi was made at home, a day before Raksha Bandhan. Pecan’s summer holidays were still on and as I worked on the Rakhi, he kept peppering me with questions, as is his trademark style, inquisitiveness being his middle name.
One question led to another and soon, the seemingly innocent questions had turned quite serious. “Why is it that in India ladies always need protection and that men are always seen as the protectors ?” asked Pecan.
Thus began my explanation of Raksha Bandhan, the way I see it.
What is Rakhi? Is it just a thread? What is Raksha Bandhan? Is it just something that is celebrated, that particular day of the year? No. A Rakhi is not just a sacred thread. It is the symbol of a fraternal bond that lasts a lifetime. Like I said to Pecan, in the context of the modern world as we see it today, the erstwhile paternalistic notions that Raksha Bandhan was usually associated with, has definitely undergone a change in a lot of households and families. The machismo philosophy that “brothers are invincible and sisters always need to be protected by their brothers” has been replaced by a more general, more encompassing, a more tolerant philosophy that celebrates the fraternal bond.
To me, the sibling relationship has always been a shrouded mystery of sorts. Having been brought up as an only child, I have never been privy to the complexity that surrounds a sibling relationship, not to mention the gripes and the good moments between siblings. My childhood essentially revolved around me, my parents, my uncles, aunts, my grandmother – a rather simplistic existence without a sibling around. I never did miss a sibling as I was growing up, probably because I never knew what I was missing out on.
One of my best friends was an only child too and so were my immediate cousins. Another best friend of mine had a sibling but she never quite had anything good to say about a sibling relationship. All in all, there I was, thinking and believing that it was for the best and that I had not missed out on anything of importance or fun by not having a sibling to share my “growing up” years with.
To a great extent, at close quarters, the Nutty Siblings are the ones that have taught me whatever it is that I have grown to understand about a sibling relationship – the goods, the bads and the in-betweens – all thrown in together in one giant mish mash of feelings, emotions, of the sentiments that make up the threads of a sibling relationship and of the underlying core of strength that this relationship comes with. The very same potent force in a sibling relationship that makes the simple strands of a Rakhi personify strength, resilience, dependability, loyalty and fidelity.
By now, if I have managed to convince you that the Nutty Siblings are the sweetest pair of siblings that you can find on the face of Planet Earth, if you’ve gone all mushy hearted and teary eyed, it is time for you to bring on those second thoughts, on the double. These two can drive each other nuts, up the wall and onto the ceiling in a span of seconds. Those pointed looks, that attitude, those arguments that never seem to end, the bickering, the whining that peppers a day pretty much like mustard seeds in a pot of curry – that’s pretty much a part and parcel of everyday life for The Nutty Siblings.
Yet, when faced with threat from an outside source, they turn into a force that really takes a lot of reckoning with. I’ve seen it happen before and I would not want to be at the receiving end of that combined force that these two are capable of unleashing. They are at their potent best if it is us, the parents that they are ganging up against – because I, for one, am totally convinced that Macadamia and Pecan have some sort of wager going – to see how soon they can turn their parents into silver heads !!
I am usually careful enough to make sure that I don’t walk into one of their “fights”. Depending on the severity of the situation, their reactions can range from huffing and puffing at each other to rolling their eyes as if seeking supplication from heavenly bodies to sulking, arguing for the sake of having an argument, giving each other attitude, throwing each other the dirtiest of looks that they can garner right then… the list is endless.
We intervene if and only if parental intervention becomes an absolute must. Otherwise, the usual policy is “if you guys can get into fights so easily, you might as well figure out a way to sort it out as well”. We do believe in getting them to think and arrive at solutions rather than present them with ready-made answers to any given problem. Where there is conflict, there has to be resolution. Over a period of time, creative thinking and problem solving start to become a natural part of their thinking processes, developing and improving these skills become embedded in their psyche.
Despite these “fights” that are seen between them with remarkable alacrity, it is not difficult for me to sense the bond that run within the deepest recesses of their minds. They cherish the attachment that they share, they appreciate the other sibling being there for them when it really counts, they value their shared laughter and they respect and actively seek each others’ judgment and opinion in matters that really count.
In our books, that bond that the Nutty Siblings share (as I’m sure is the case with most siblings around the world) with each other, day in and day out, is the true essence of a Rakhi, as we see it. It is the very spirit, the core, the quintessence of that sacred thread that embodies the siblings – it is about the relationship between siblings in all its colorful glory, its natural complexity, its boundless energy, the vibrancy, the colorful chaos and the vivid madness, the lively pandemonium and insanity that only siblings can be capable of.
Yes, siblings quarrel, they fight, they bicker, they whine, they are mean, they can be mule-headedly stubborn, they argue, they squabble but I guess, like the younger sibling once said to me “that is the way siblings communicate with each other”. Sibling relationships are indeed among the most prized, in a lifetime. How else would siblings have someone to throw a pillow at, someone to bug, someone to blame for just about anything and everything and yet, through it all, siblings are probably the people who will laugh together over something when the whole world wonders why.
Siblings are the ones that impact each others’ temperament and mold each others’ personalities much more and much longer than anyone or anything else. They do drive their parents insane in the process but then again, I guess that is familial collateral damage at its very best!
Gauri Venkitaraman dons many hats – a wife, a mom, a teacher and many more. Working as a full-time English teacher in HongKong, Gauri also raises and nurtures two terrors, affectionately known as The Nutty Siblings a.k.a Macadamia, a teen and Pecan, the ten-year old who behaves like he is fifteen. Gauri’s family means the world to her. Life is a lively roller coaster ride and we, as a family, aim to enjoy the ride together. http://tiny-tidbits.blogspot.hk/ is where Gauri pens down her thoughts and musings, in an attempt to preserve memories for posterity.