For someone who has no siblings, Raksha Bandhan has been a festival of observation rather than participation. Back in the good old Lucknow days, it was quite a crazy festival though. We usually had school on Rakhi day. So we all got ready fifteen minutes early. I was the only girl in the entire row of houses, so the boys stood in a line while I tied rakhis on their wrists and collected a modest booty. Akshay, Kabir, Samir, Ajay, Sujay formed the line up, with Sujay the youngest mostly trying to run away from the teeka and the mithai being stuffed into his mouth! Beautiful memories, unfortunately I don’t seem to have any pics at all of this annual event.
There is also a rather embarassing memory I can share, with advance apologies to the friend in question, Akshay. As typical a teenager as any, there was a point when I fancied I had a huge crush on Akshay, who had been one of my closest friends and confidantes on the SGPGI Campus. It was a silent crush, manifested as an obsessive admiration and certainly not as romantic love. So I agonized for weeks about whether I should tie him a Rakhi and how would I manage to not tie it without confessing to this crush (which even I knew was a temporary thing). My problem was solved by a tattling Samir (Bubu, where are you! I miss your excellent advise on all matters personal!), who blurted all out to Akshay, who in turn summarily dismissed the entire deal and demanded his Rakhi come Raksha Bandhan. And so that awkward moment passed and our friendship was further cemented by this humorous incident.
Cut to 2004. Neel and Tushar assumed the role of my mentors during those first few stressful and exciting months at the School of Planning and Architecture. One weekend, when things looked particularly low (I broke up with a boyfriend, design feedback from faculty hit the rock bottom, etc), Tushar whisked me away and drove me home to spend a weekend at his parents’ home in Roorkee. We visited his family home in Bijnore. We spent a lot of quality time and a lifelong relationship was created. He has been Tushar Bhai since and is a firm part of what I consider my extended family.
So we ‘only children’ find family even if we weren’t granted siblings. I’m not one given to collect ‘muh bola bhais’, but I am not averse to the phenomenon either. Certainly, adopting brothers has enriched my life