Today, is RakshaBandhan.
This was my first RakshaBandhan after marriage everyone looked excited. More than anyone my husband looked thrilled the most as this was our first festival together after marriage. You know ours is a love marriage! Preet didi and my husband Surjeet are just two members of the family. Overall the family is quite big but these two are the only blood relations in the family. No one knows how, when and what happened to mummy ji and papa ji lost their lives. Priti Didi holds a special place in my husband’s life. Since the time we got married I have always seen him worship her just like a mother and a God.
“Rajjo, come down we are about to start RakshaBandhan ceremony” Dimpy came shouting. Dimpy is a house help and she is more like a family. I was quite excited for the ceremony to begin as in our family newlyweds sit together and sisters apply tilak, do puja and posts which gifts are exchanged. With happiness beaming in my heart I was prepared to be part of the ceremony and get Rakhi tied in my hands in a few minutes from now. With the thought of celebrating the festival with my family, I ran down to find only one small chowki (small traditional stool used in northern India)
Surjeet waved at me “Come Rajjo”. With hopes and excitement fading I came and stood near my husband. Unable to hold my curiosity I asked, Preeti Didi will you not do our puja and tie Rakhi to both of us. She kept quiet and just looked at my husband and smiled. With a smile on his face, he came to me with a puja thali in his hands. He quietly said, “Rajjo we celebrate RakshaBandhan in a special way. We do not follow the age old tradition of a sister tying Rakhi to his brother, we do it the other way around. I tie Rakhi to Preeti Didi”. With confusion in my mind, I ask my husband to explain this. He then held my hand and replied with a smile again “Rajjo, we will tie Rakhi to Preet didi today”. “What? I am sorry I never heard this. And what made you alter the tradition?” I was not able to stop myself and I kept on asking questions. Realizing my state of mind Preeti didi came ahead and said, Surjeet, Rajjo is the new family member and for her to understand us better she needs to know the entire truth of our house. Surjeet shook his head in agreement and asked me to sit.
This was the beginning of a heart-wrenching story which my husband started narrating. “My parents lived in a small village in Punjab, a big haveli of my grand parents that was very well known in the village. My father, we used to call him Bapuji, was head of the village, sarpanch and my mother Bebeji was known for her humble and generous nature”.
“Our grand parents had three Son’s, Bapu Ji was the eldest son and had two younger brothers who are all married and well settled. Our family was counted amongst the mosts reputed families of the village” He added.
Dimpy got tea for us. I could see her eyes wet already. “I asked you were in Punjab then how come in Haryana now.” Surjeet quickly replied, “Rajjo have patience and listen.” Preet didi was silent like a stone all this while. With her light pink colored salwar kameez, she looked serene sitting quietly in one corner. She used to always keep her head covered with a dupatta which was now flowing due to the breeze coming from the window.
Dimpy came back for the empty glass. Everyone in the room was silent and it was deafening me. I was getting more and more impatient but no one knew that mind was finding it hard to be patient anymore. I just wanted to know everything at one go. However, I had to keep patience for the entire story to get revealed.
Surjeet began “After Preet didi was born, Bebe ji was not able to conceive and a pressure of bringing a boy to the family was increasing. ” “Shanti Chachi our elder Chachi ji could not conceive due to some medical issues, Harjot Chachi ji already had 4 girls in the expectation of a male child,” Surjeet added.
“When Preet didi was 14 years I was born, there was a huge celebration, after all, heir’s existence was now out of danger”. Surjeet shook his head and smiled sarcastically.
I turned my head the main door opened mamaji arrived. I quickly went ahead and touched mamaji’s feet to greet him. He blessed me and sat on Deewan in the court yard. Surjeet began “As 2 years passed everyone started showing their colors, both the chacha wanted to divide the property, land, and house.” Anger was evident on Surjeet’s face. “Because of this greed of money and land, the house looked not less than a war zone, Dada Ji and Dadiji were the most emotionally affected persons of the family because of the cold war between siblings,” Surjeet said. “In a span of 8 months dada Ji and dadi ji passed away as they could not bear the trauma anymore” Mama ji added this time. “Now, both chachji joined their hands against Bapuji” my husband continued.
“Property and land were divided already but, as bapuji had a son the feeling of jealousy did not fade a single shade”. Surjeet said.
Preet didi got up and went inside as she was getting a call on her phone.
“It was a beautiful night I was sleeping with Preet didi and Bebeji was telling us a story. I fell asleep and after a while, we heard a bang on our Door.” Bebe ji quickly asked us to go and hide under the bed. Bebeji was so sure that something is going to happen some day she made a hideout for us under the bed. Me and Preet didi went under the bed to hide ourself, as we were taught by Bebeji. We were instructed not to come out in any circumstances. Me and Preet didi were watching our Bebe crying and lying on the floor. We saw two legs came forward and he attacked Babeji’s stomach 2 times with a big sword. “Let’s go and find out her kids and kill them too,” Some one said. I saw Babeji did not cry so that I being the young child could maintain my calm. She called us out. “We came out and saw Bebeji lying in the pool of blood”. After seeing this I was shocked I peed there, I was just 2-year old. Bebeji held Preet didi’s hand and whispered “Take your brother and run as far as you can” she pointed towards a small bag and said, “take that along.” Preet didi wanted to cry and just hug Bebeji once. But, she took me in her lap, held bag and ran, she looked behind before stepping out. Bebeji had a smile on her face and Preet didi had tears. Living in anticipation that something wrong will happen and she will have to make her kids run away, our bebeji used to make parathe and fill thermos of hot milk everyday. She just wanted to ensure if the day comes when her kids will have to run away she will be able to ensure their safety even after dying. When I tell this to you today my whole body shivers at the thought of what our mother did for us. She died in front of our eyes but she saved us.
We ran from the back yard of our house until the end of our fields. In the speed, Preet didi did not realize and she got hit by something on the way and we both fell on the ground. It was our father’s body lying in the field. We ran till dawn and came near a railway track. There was a train a stock car standing filled with sacks of paddy. Preet didi quickly got me on one of the stock cars so that we can hide ourself for some time and sit since our legs were hurting and hunger pang was making things worse. Preet didi quickly opened the bag. The bag had some money, a thermos filled with milk, parathe made by Bebeji, some addresses, and a letter. She gave me to eat then quickly kept rest of the items back in the bag and opened the letter. The letter was by Bebeji and she explained to us how to reach our (Maternal Uncle) Mama Ji in Haryana. To give all money, jewelry etc to Mamaji and Bebeji also said, in the outside pocket there were clothes for us to change the clothes quickly before some one identifies us.
I had tears in my eyes flowing like a river. Mamaji waved Dimpy and she got a glass of water to me. All this while Preet didi did not come. Surjeet came forward and asked “now you know why I tie Rakhi to Didi. Rakshabandhan is a festival where a brother gives word to his sister for her safety and wellness. But, in my case, this word was given to Bebeji by Preet didi”. Surjeet explained with teary eyes.
“Life was not that easy for them, they came a long way ahead and build all this”. Mamaji pointed towards the villa. “Preet ate one time a day to fulfill all desire and wishes of Surjeet. Just like a mother, she took care of her brother. She got good matrimonial proposals but never accepted one as she wished to be with Surjeet forever”. Mamaji said wiping his tears.
I came forward picked the Thali and asked Surjeet “Chalo lets tie Rakhi, Kinni gallan karde tussi vi.(How much you talk)”. All started smiling and we went to Preet didi’s room where she was sitting on her bed and checking some files. This is my first and different RakshaBandhan.
Life gives you the lesson every day, we humans are made to adapt change. I adapted this change to the core.
Both my son and daughter tie Rakhi to each other. Let’s chuck this stereotype from the bond of love. Let ‘s each one of us share an equal responsibility and love towards our relationships.
Disclaimer : This story is a work of fiction which is intended to inspire and remind us the true essence of brother and sister relationships. It has no connection to events and characters in real life.
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