Today is the friendship Sunday. Tomorrow is the Rakshabandan Monday. There is not much of friendship frenzy. It seems the fad of collectivism is dying a slow death. It is restricted to the tweets, and Facebook mentions. However, the social post, short films and brand messages have started bombarding the inboxes with Rakhi messages.
The film Sinha vs. Sinha sent me back to my real-life experience. It still remains fresh as ever in my mind. Thank you whatsapp and Facebook for the role you played in it. Nevertheless, the episode is from a time when such technologies did not exist.
It was 1981 or 82, about 10 years after we had moved out of Lansdowne, a small un-happening town.
In 1971, we moved to Jabalpur. I was in 3rd standard. The memories of young friends at Lansdowne slowly dimmed with the influx of newfound friends at Kendriya Vidhyalay, GCF Estate (where I studied) and Hathital Colony (where we lived).
Our closest friend at Lansdowne was Manju. She was two years older to me and of my brother Rajiv’s age. She lived with her Buajee and Fufajee in the house that overlooked our house on the hill slopes.
She was my muoh boli sister. She had no brother, and she used to tie Rakhi to both brothers. That was all the relationship. Rest we were like friends, playing, fighting and studying, until the Rakhi day, when she would tie the thread and play the role of sister.
My blood sister is five years younger to me. So before she was born, Manju would do the honours. She tied Rakhi on us brothers. She got brothers, and we got a sister who loved us so much. Nothing changed when Mamta was born, the bond with Manju only strengthened with time.
In that decade 1971-81, while at Jabalpur, we never got Rakhi from Manju.
In 1981, I was 18-year-old. It was the year; I went to Lansdowne for the first time after 10 years. We have an ancestral house there; my Taujee and Tayijee were staying in it.
I remember, passing her house and pausing. I turned and looked expecting her to be there. The expectations and anticipation were high.
Lansdowne is a small town, and it was much smaller in early 80s. It was untouched with the current tourism and commercialisation. It would not be more than few hours when friends and families got to know Kanchan’s (my mother) younger son ‘Sanju’ was in town. So, everyone passing by would check how the family was doing at Jabalpur, and if I have come alone. Such closeness is tough to find now days.
It was evening when I went to Manju’s home. I was greeted with much love and care. Manju was there, and we got chatting as if I never left the place. There were a lot of things to share. Before I left, she got an aarti thali and made me sit in the living room.
There were 10 Rakhi on the thali. Every year she bought but never posted. There was no reason as to why she did so. That day was not even Rakshabandan day, but the beauty of it is that it hardly mattered. What mattered was the overflowing love of my sister. I was the proud brother and had 10 Rakhi on my wrist.
For many years, we lost touch. I kept thinking. She will be keeping Rakhi for every year. Fleeting news of her leaving Lansdowne, getting married, having kids, being in Alwar etc. kept filtering in. However, there was no connect. Until the day her daughter connected on Facebook, she checked, if was her Sanju Mamma, who her mother so fondly remembers.
This year, as every year, Manju’s Rakhi came much earlier than Rakshabandan. It’s there at the puja. We are not celebrating festivals this year. Last year, we lost our dear youngest cousin Ashwini Kotnala to cancer. Bet, I will be keeping the Rakhi and wear it next year.
My Six Sisters
MANJU, you read the episode and know her.
ARADHANA is elder to me by two months and daughter of my second Taujee. She is married to Chandola’s and stays at Dehradun. We have a completely different bond. As far as I can remember, she has never tied a Rakhi on me. I always feel the pinch.
MAMTA is youngest between the three of us. She is married in Baral family and stays at Dehradun. I most likely will get a call from her on Rakhi. She will complain and wonder why her Rakhi never reaches on time. Maybe, this year, she may not have sent, and it will be understood.
MONICA is my favourite Mausi’s eldest daughter. She is younger to me. She is married in Dhasmana Family and lives in Pune. Her Rakhi with the trademark sweet short crisp letter in that neat bold handwriting came full of wishes two weeks back. I don’t recall any year, when her Rakhi was delayed.
RAGINI OR KAKU is the younger daughter of my mother’s youngest brother. She is married into Sachdeva family and stays in Dehradun. She has the official family title of being my Bhuli Number 1 ( Sister number 1). Our mutual love and respect is of a different dimension. It’s undefined and unexplainable, and I love it. And yes, her Rakhi is mostly delayed, and some years it fails to reach me. However, she will call and start her excuse, which will lead to exchange of dialogue that one wishes never to end.
SHEELA CHATURVEDI. She is my friend Pankaj Chaturvedi’s sister. When did she become my sister? How did that happen? I don’t remember! Nevertheless, she was like an elder sister to me. During my engineering, she helped me a lot. Later, I shifted towns for study and work and went to study and lost touch. Today, I don’t even know where the Chaturvedi family is. I have faith that sooner or later; I will meet her and then like the brother sisters; we will have a lot to share.
Maybe next year I will be at Dehradun on Rakhi. Or try doing Alwar- Dehradun on the same day. It is not a promise but maybe next year it will happen.
‘Sinha vs. Sinha’ the short film on the special brother-sister bond presented in association with PYAR.com, Click, Flirt, Love. Yes, that’s the presenter. Anyway, it is a good film, and it did make me emotional.