Tomorrow is Rakshabandhan and as usual I shall observe sisters tie “Rakhis’ to their brothers. Some will perhaps post them out, some may send an ‘e-rakhi’. Some have real brothers, meaning biological brothers, some like me don’t. Some have a ‘Rakhi’ brother- a boy or a man that they have taken for a brother, who is usually unrelated to them and who then is their protector/ defender against the big bad world.
For those unfamiliar with Rakhsabandhan, this is an Indian festival where a sister ties a coloured thread around the wrist of her brother and he in turns pledges his protection towards her.
Now, I have no biological brother and having never found anyone to confer the title of ‘Bhaiyya’ [brother], have never tied a ‘Rakhi’ other than when I tied one around my sister’s wrist and my father’s wrist one year, just for a bit of fun.
When I mention ‘Rakhi’ brother, I cannot help but think of the time I have in fact considered someone a sister- someone unrelated to me , who protected and defended me the way a brother is supposed to.
So this Rakshabandhan, I must share the story of my ‘Rakhi’ sister.
‘She’ happened to be my boss, at least 10 years older than me. She has always been one hell of a gutsy woman who can do anything any human can. She drives a motorbike just as well as she can roll out fantastic chapatis. She is the kind of woman who is at ease in the kitchen, the gym and the workplace.
One day as I was crossing the road to go to work, I noticed a sleazy looking guy constantly staring at me and walking along with me. The chilling look on his face said it all. I walked, no, almost ran to work. I thought I was imagining it. After all it was a busy road- none could do anything to me.
The next day , I noticed the same man staring and following me not only to work but also after work. So I changed my bus time and to my horror, the same creature was there at the bus spot ready to follow me.
So I started getting off a stop before and taking a rickshaw to work! no use, the stalker still persisted…his scary eyes on me as I got off and dashed off to enter my workplace.
I even resorted to a camouflage of sorts- a scarf and a huge sunglasses. It seems funny now, but at the time, it was far from funny. At one point I even thought of leaving my job.
Finally, it got to a point where I began to actually fear for my life. What is this maniac threw acid on me or something? What if he followed me home ?
So when I could not bear it anymore, I told my ‘Rakhi’ sister all. She was furious. How dare he do this! she said.
So that day after work, she asked me exactly how he looked and where my bus stop was.
She then went to the bus stop and waited. I got out of the workplace as usual and there he was ready to follow me. I had new found confidence as I knew that I was being protected. When I got to the bus stop , I saw her waiting. The stalker followed me to the bus stop. I gestured to her that this was the guy. What followed next was a full–on lambasting in public. She confronted him, he denied following me. She told him off, threatened to report him to the police.He refused to get cowed down. She even said she would beat him up if he ever came near me again! At this point, I was scared for her safety. The last thing I wanted was for her to get assaulted in trying to protect me.
After this showdown, she dropped me home. From that day onwards she would drop me to my bus stop in car. She really did not have to. I was now worried for her and me. After all the stalker guy knew where we both worked.
But after this incident, I was saw the guy just once at another bus stop when my heart skipped a few beats , but nothing happened.
Just recounting this experience gives me the goosebumps even after so many years.
The reason I recount it is to give credit to this woman who had no business, risking her own life and limb to try and defend me who was just an employee. She was only my boss, whose function lay only within the walls of the workplace.
This ‘Rakhi’ sister even did up my hair at my wedding[ an elaborate plait with false hair, flowers and so on] and went on to do my make up as well. Again, she just did not have to do any of this.
No, I don’t have to tie a ‘Rakhi’ on her wrist, neither do I call her ‘didi[ older sister] or anything similar.
This Rakshabandhan, let us not forget that not every one has a brother.
Some of us have sisters and the bond is similar.