Fine Thread of Bonding
Yesterday was Tuesday. 20th August, 2013, when all over the world Indians celebrate 'Raksha Bandhan - Raakhi', to glorify the unique brother-sister relationship. It is a Hindu festival which has fascinated me since my childhood.
Although we are a Muslim family, of Kashmiri origin, settled in Kenya since the past 100 years, we have had no qualms about mixing with people of different religions and diverse cultures. We had many Hindu friends with whom we shared joyous moments of all their traditions by exchanging presents and sweets during the auspicious occasions of Diwali, Jagran, Gurbas, Doshera, Holi, Karva Chauth and Rakhee which was my favourite.
I was ten when my only brother was born amidst immense merriment as he had arrived after a long wait and a line of four sisters. I still remember it was Friday, the 10th day of Ramadhan, the month of fasting. I was attending my Class 5 lesson when my younger sister walked to my desk and whispered in my ear that we now had a baby brother. Family and friends were over joyed and our parents were so happy to welcome him - not that we girls had ever been discriminated. In fact my Dad, the noble, broad-minded and enlightened person that he was, told the surprised hospital nurses that this was his fifth son!
Emulating our Hindu friends, we would tie 'raakhis' on our little brother's wrist every year and sing 'Merey bhaiya, merey chanda, merey unmol ratan, Tere badlay mein zamanay ki koi cheez na loon.' Our raakhis were home made, small decorations tied on coloured thread signifying the delicate but sublime relationship of a brother and a sister. He was our baby, the apple of our eyes, our delight! We always had a soft corner for him in our hearts; we loved and cherished his prescence and would do anything to see him happy. We played together with his tricycle and toy cars. He was our hero. We forgave him even if we got hurt during his pranks. We pampered him, dressed him up, polished his little shoes and even stood in front of him to protect him from the wrath of Dad's slaps when he had been naughty. Dad never favoured him unduly and gave equal opportunities to all the children for their education and careers.
As we grew bigger, we took care that he did not feel hen-pecked by his older sisters. We respected his views and supported all his aspirations. He was an extra-ordinarily intelligent and hyper-active young boy. When he was in nursery class, he hated to go to school because of a fat teacher who used to terrorise all the children - he wanted to become a bus conducter who would travel a lot and a have a bag of money all the time! Later, he became the young star of Muslim School where he shone not only in his studies but also in sports, acting and singing.
He was an A+ student at C.P.E., 'O' and 'A' levels.and subsequently joined the Nairobi University to study Medicine. By this time we had all graduated, were following our careers and were all happily married in Nairobi. He, too, agreed to an arranged marriage soon after his internship. We all went for his wedding in Pakistan and came back with the lovely bride who was also a medical doctor.
He had matured to be a confidant, self-dependant, handsome young man with the most appealing, charismatic personality and a fantastic sense of humour. He was a sincere friend, a doting husband, loving father and a supportive son who cared for and looked after Mum, even after Dad's death.
For our children, their only maternal uncle was a hero, their ideal person, the epitome of generosity, integrity and education. They looked up to him, admired him and sought his advice in their career paths. He was young but he performed all his duties with the diligence of an elderly person.
Time zoomed on. We all got busy looking after our own families and never realised that slowly we were all drifting apart. We never wanted to hurt each other by relating our immediate family problems and preferred to suffer in silence. Under the pressure of family responsibilities our heart to heart sessions became lesser and lesser. All our children were growing up and going to university. They had their own interests and had no time for their cousins. We would meet only at functions and visits to each others' houses became rare. One tragedy after another led to life long relations falling apart.
Now, I am a retired teacher and he is a famous E.N.T. Consultant. We are in the same town, but we hardly see each other. I still love and respect him immensely and know that he will always be there for me in need. He has never been callous or rude to me.The most special corner of my heart will always be for my brother. I pray for his long, happy life and every Raakhi time, all the childhood memories flood back as I sing in my heart ' Bandha hua ek ek dhagey mein bhai bahein ka pyar, raakhi dhagon ka tuohaar'.
In my opinion, Raakhi should be dubbed as the Universal Brothers Day as it signifies the unbreakable, undeniable bond of purity and sanctity of the brother-sister relationship.
copy right Shama Butt