As close as hands and feet

As close as hands and feet

As close as hands and feet

Through the bickering and nagging, teasing and wrestling, laughing and howling, pranks and sulks, the bond between siblings outlives most other relationships, writes Reethika Azariah Kuruvilla

In a world full of ever-changing relationships, somehow the relationship between siblings is the one thing that seems constant, the one thing you can count on when everything else seems bleak. Much like the Bollywood bhaiya who stands by his sister through thick and thin, or the little boy who tries to protect his elder sibling from the goondas in the village. Brothers, whether worthy or not, are the fulcrum of life.

Remember the advertisement with a girl on a scooter who ties a rakhi on a traffic cop’s wrist, and the roadside Romeos make a hasty exit? Well, for all those who don’t have a ‘real’ brother, the ‘rakhi brother’ can be a saviour.

If there’s one thing we take seriously on our subcontinent, it’s  tradition, and girls often find themselves under the umbrella of familial love of ‘rakhi brothers’ – often cousins or friends. This way, brother or no brother, we all get to celebrate Raksha Bandhan (and make some money while we’re at it).

Raksha Bandhan – falls on August 10 this year – is an annual celebration of brothers, and all the love and security they embody. It’s a time for reaffirmation of the sister’s loyalty and eternal love.

For centuries, the festival has held much importance all over the sub-continent, dating back as far as 300 BC in the time of Alexander the Great. As the story goes, King Alexander of Macedonia was shaken by the fury of King Puru. On hearing about the rakhi festival, Alexander’s wife approached King Puru, and he accepted her as his sister. Naturally, during war, King Puru spared Alexander, his sister’s husband.

From the times of the widowed queen of Chitoor, Rani Karnawati, sending Emperor Humayun a rakhi, to today’s fancy rakhis, the simple band has undergone a sea change. There are the fancy, colourful rakhis to the elegant Swarovski-studded ones! Last year, the markets in Bihar were flooded with rakhis with pictures of politicians - Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan.

In Kolkata, there were innovative rakhis made with onion bulbs (onion prices were at an all-time high then). The message was clear “apne bhai ko pyaaz ki rakhi bandho aur khushi ki aason ayegi” (an onion-rakhi tied on your brother’s wrist will bring tears of joy).

An ode to bro

His voice always seems 10 decibels louder than the rest of the crowd, his self-confidence unique. He loves you, quite possibly, as much as he loves himself, but can embarrass and upset you like no other. He’s broken your tricycle, pushed your swing till his arms ached, got that helium balloon down from the ceiling, until he felt like bursting it himself.

He’s the one you call when you don’t want to take the bus; you need to get picked up from college. He knows when you’re crying on the phone before your first tear falls.

He’s special and strong, loving and kind, and no matter what, will often speak his mind. With the innate ability to change your outlook on anything, he’s had an opinion and an influence on all that you do with your life, from the job you pick, the boys who want to date you and those you actually date, to who you end up becoming as an adult.

He’s helped you become a better person just by being with you. He’s made you want to be more like him, smarter and more independent. Sometimes you wonder how you are actually related to this rather lovable Machiavellian hero!

Through the bickering and nagging, the teasing and the wrestling, the laughing and the howling, the pranks and the sulks, brothers are always there. You share a bond so strong that it can withstand the test of time and distance. Your lives will always be intertwined, through memories and people that few others will ever know.

This message from a brother on a website aptly named says little but means so much:  “Dear didi, if one day you feel like crying...Call me! I promise that I will make you laugh. If one day you want to run away due to problems...Don't be afraid to call me! I promise that I will motivate you to fight against worries. And if one day you don't want to listen to anyone... Call me!

I promise to be there for you, and to listen to you very quietly. And whenever you need me, but can't even speak, simply whisper in your heart, I will be right there - just before you...My heartiest wishes to the most lovely sister on the planet earth.”

Let’s take a moment to pause and celebrate our brothers, nephews, cousins and those brother-figures, for who they really are – our childhood nightmares and life-long best friends. Whether your brother lives miles away or under the same roof, here are a few easy ideas to show him you care:

Think of three amusing childhood memories of the two of you, and remind him of the fun you had growing up together, whether on email or a short message.

Remember the times he’s bailed you out, either not telling your mother about something you broke or supporting your story even when he knew you were lying. Call to thank him.

Think of three reasons why you love and admire him, and tell him about it. Chances are the more important the person is in your life, the more you tend to forget to tell him how much he is

Take time off to have a meal with him during the week if you live in the same city - a ‘sibling only’ meal to simply catch up. And, pay the bill before he does.

Instead of waiting to see what he has got you this festive season, surprise him by getting him a gift along with his rakhi.  If you do have the time and the photographs, make a scrapbook filled with pictures - and captions - from your childhood.

If you are spending the day with your brother, make it an argument-free day. Try not to nitpick or squabble, because the tendency to nag between siblings is always there, no matter how old they are.

Just give him a hug and tell him you love him and you’re proud of him. Tell him that having a sister is like having a best friend he can’t get rid of - wherever he goes, you’ll always be there.