>A brother-less post for Raksha Bandhan

>Does it matter that I do not have a brother? I’m forced to think after watching the deluge of Raksha Bandhan ads on TV, after seeing the markets flooded with rakhis of different shapes and sizes – pretty, ugly, attractive – all kinds, after hearing friends tell me of their endless plans for today. But I can’t miss what I’ve never known – this excitement, this euphoria of having a brother whom you fight with all through your life and still bond with. I have a sibling, albeit a girl, whom I can do all that with. Does that not suffice?

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I’ll expound on how my early life was spent in the company of women of all ages. There was my grandmother, ma, badi ma, badi ma’s two daughters, my sister and I. The men, except for the ones who were my father’s age, were conspicuous by their absence in my family: there was dad and bade papa, and a cousin from another uncle who lived with us. You get the girl-boy ratio in the family? Even among the cousins, the boys were few and far between and existed, for me, only on the fringes of my existence. On my maternal side too, the genes were tipped in favour of pretty girls. The boys were royally ignored in girlie games and talks during the growing-up years, accommodated with great effort in whatever little way possible.

Thanks to our (our = me and my siblings) education in all-girls schools, there was a distinct dearth of friends-turned-rakhi brothers too in our family. And even when we did have friends who were boys, there continued to be a dearth of friends-turned-rakhi brothers. There simply wasn’t any room for them.

And life was still fun.

Except for on those occasions when we needed a boy/man – whatever to chaperone on us to late-night parties and because there was none, we had to forego those parties for a long time. I was so desperate at one time in my teens for a brother who would quell the fears of two girls’ parents, that I ended up making some unreasonable demands on my mother: I wanted a brother, an elder brother. My mother wasn’t interested in listening to more reasonable demands either that I could have made but never did – simply of a brother.

Those were rare moments when I wished for a brother. Most of the other time we spent defying this boy-obsessed society, revelling in the fact that we didn’t need a brother/son. When my sister and I would accompany mum to those stores she’d been shopping at since she was a child, the lalaji behind the counters would look at the three of us sympathetically and ask for the umpteenth time about “no baba?” I hated those lalajis, my mom matured enough to know they were best ignored.

But every Raksha Bandhan, I look on half-dazedly at the scores of brothers and sisters celebrate this festival. And I look around too to find myself a boy who’d be worthy enough to be my rakhi brother. But I haven’t managed to convince myself yet that I need a brother. Can you?


25 responses »

  1. >Brothers are not always as gud as u thinks and specially the younger ones, ask my sister I really gave her tough time.I broke her well preserved toys and dolls, her monopoly in family, but still she loves me. And today second time in a row I broke my promise to be at her place in every Raakhi and she ain’t complaining about it. I had just completed chatting with sis when I saw u r post. Don’t know I’m worthy enough or not,but I can

  2. >I so relate the post. I lost my bro long time back and the adds on TV and newspaper just worsened my attitude of “no-I-don’t-wanna-tie-a-rakhi” to any arbit person. Anyways happy day to you 🙂

  3. >…..& u know what , it's even worse to have brothers who are so far away that you just wish them a "happy rakshabandhan " on phone for years while you see the other sisters happily spending the day with their brothers. & like u may miss having a brother, I really miss having a sister. grass is always greener on the other side. isn't it?

  4. >The only benefit of having a brother on Rakhi is if he’s going to bestow upon you a nice present…Other than that, spare yourself these thoughts, at least on this day. There’s nothing quite like sisterly love.

  5. >:) Every year on rakhi, my younger sis and I would tie rakhis to each other! 🙂 For a while that seemed enough fun! But as we both grew up over the years, with no brothers to tie rakhi to, i would yearn for one too. I guess it was mostly becos of all the drama and hype by the media – ads for rakhi cards,designer rakhis and what have you! I dont anymore. I guess I`ve just grown up! 🙂

  6. >@Nitin: How nice!@Sach: I’m sorry, it must be hard for you.@Monika: But the whole point is I don’t miss not having a brother!@Unsungpsalm: Oh, I agree. I have lost out on a lot of gifts/cash, I guess!@Piper: Yes, growing up does have a big role to play here.@Manasa: Good for you.

  7. >I wouldn’t even try. So you don’t have a brother. I don’t see the big deal.The customs and occasion of Rakhsha-Bhandhan is far more serene, and quite than today’s commercial world makes it out to be. I haven’t been in the same city as my brother for almost a decade and a bit now. I haven’t lost the love and affection. we don’t need day to remind us what we mean to each other. We are siblings and that is all that matters. You have one. You could tie her a Rakhi too you know. If it is only the act u want to perform 🙂

  8. >Was nice coming across a Lucknowite. You made me think of ITcollege, ganjing and Bhatkande… I miss everything so much.I have a brother who never liked wearing rakhi so, I always bought the thinnest of strings inspite of rakhi deluges and then found a permanent solution to it. You have a sweet blog.

  9. >I have seen some mean brothers and some nice ones too. But as you said, one can not miss what one has never had. I have quite many rakhi brothers and cousins that I tie a rakhi to. Its merely a formality, though.

  10. >well, u don’t miss it, its good after all. to me, the festival is more about celebrating brotherhood, which then means the ritual is only by the way. interestingly, i have been in the midst of people who tie rakhis to everybody – brothers, sisters and what not!

  11. >@Lover: But do you think I need to?@Det-res: I know what you mean. It’s nice to have a sibling – a brother or a sister is irrelevant.@Mini: There are such few Lucknowites on the blogosphere! But it’s always nice to come across someone who know where you come from. @Solitaire: You understand what I’m talking about.

  12. >i love my brother, but growing up i always wished i had a sister instead! 🙂 there are some things you just cannot share with a brother. hey, thanks for your comment on my blog. i have added you to my blog roll. hope that’s okay.

  13. >I think all the hype-filmy songs ,marketing of the festival..all this gives you a feeling of having missed out something..as my Mom says and for once I totally agree-a girl must have a sister..brother is a bonus..but a sis a nessicity..According to me just tie a rakhi to Lord Krishna or your fav God-there easy solution-he is your brother!!

  14. >@Dbum: Interestingly, in our family we don’t celebrate rakhi even if we have brothers! Strange, huh?@Mira’s mom: Right!@globalindyan: Oh yes, I’ve seen that too… My niece shed copius tears when her li’l bro was born. What’s thepoint of a sibling if it’s not a girl, she wanted to know!@myspace: Oh, I’d rather be a gopi than a sister to Krishna!

  15. >not strange at all. for instance, i don’t think rakhi is a festival celebrated down south. somewhere, people caught on to it, yet, it isn’t a significant festival per se, but used mostly by girls who want to dump guys 😛

  16. >I’m very much brotherless too…and sisterless for that matter. Yeah, thus spake an only child :p! At least you got to live in a joint family with lots of people around you…had lived in a nuclear family the want of a sibling is so much more. I’ve wanted an elder brother all my life..Rakhi doesn’t make things any easier :P!Anyway…nicely written! I’m surprised I hadn’t come across your blog till now…glad I did :)!Keep Writing!

  17. >Well….this day has hurt me a lot, I would dread the emptiness that would descend on me before, on and for few days after this day year after year. I don't know whether it is the passage of time, a sense of resignation, a calm acceptance or just exhaustion & dread of feeling miserable but I have tuned out of this day…completely…I tried to get over the sense of low self-worth by leaving a Rakhi at Krishna's feet as I must confess I had this gaping hole in my heart to be a part of this day, past few years, I have managed by leaving for a great holiday or just have a fabulous weekend preceding this day, ensure that I go shopping or movie, dinner…or frenetic activity, anything to not even come close to remembering the day. I don't live in India now, I don't own a TV so it has helped ease the pain (it is a human experiment, we are studying & working so no TV :-))It is helpful even sharing my thoughts here and all I can say is that we need compassionate & caring people in our lives…life is tough…whether that person is your brother or sister is not that important…I have seen cruelty very close and rejection and I don't believe it is essential to have a sibling or the gender of the sibling…what matters is that we are surrounded by kindness & if we are very lucky – on the receiving end of affection and good humor…people who can understand our illness our flaws…our limitations..We can send the children to good schools, ensure that they run to temples every week but who can ensure that the child has a nice heart & some understanding of the trials & tribulations that less fortunate people experience…it is not important to have DNA sharing siblings…that does not guarantee togetherness or help or security or a feeling of belonging…not necessarily…thank you for the opportunity to comment and your post brings out many painful aspects of my early life and my observations as a child…I appeciate your candor..I usually manage on a day to day basis by repressing the ugliness of all this "son" and "bhai" business…want to spend my adulthood & old age in a more constructive manner..If you see a smug looking, " I AM SO COOL", mean dude, with cold eyes & ten Rakhis on his wrist…well, he may just be the other biological child that my parents produced…yes & let us enjoy each day…not just a festival…take care & happy life with your sis….P.S I spent my early childhood in Lucknow and am honored till this day to have an impeccable Hindi diction, grammar & vocab…I owe it all to Lucknow…I do..give my love to "L"

  18. >I have a brother but hardly ever I can be with him on rakhi or bhai dooj. But i dont believe in making these relations as they are very sacred to me. I always feel that whatever god wanted to have me, he will give me, and what he doesnt want me to have, I must be happy without that.so be happy:)

  19. >@Vinz: I guess, because it hasn’t come to me till now.@Dbum: Lol! There’s that dimension as well… Rakhi is the day when boys would ideally like to go in hiding.@Neha: Thank you. It’s always nice when someone can relate to what you’ve written.@Anon: I didn’t expect this post to elicit such a strong reaction from anyone. But I think I’ve touched a raw nerve somewhere. And I’m glad you could use this space to vent your thoughts.@Renu: I agree.

  20. >it dont matter i guess!!if you have one, you tie a rakhi, if you dont, ki farak?!i used to tell my younget brother to tie rakhi to me since i was elder and protecting him anywayz!!but i really dont think Raksha Bandhan is about boy obsessed society!! its about that special relationship which is shared by all siblings!!i had friend who had sister and they used to tie rakhi to each other! and rakhi meant gifts for sister who wasnt earning then and didnt get to see her maika people so often!now girls also gift their bhais something on rakhi since they earn as much if not more! :Dits just the spirit of the festival! nothing to get mopey about! :Dgreat blog!cheers!abha

  21. >The ratio in my house was 5:1! Mom, 4 girls and dad. And no, I don’t know what I would need a brother for. Rakhis were mailed to cousins, who duly mailed back some gifts. that’s it.

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