Raksha Bandhan…..The MEMOIRS!
Raksha Bandhan…..The MEMOIRS!6 mins 59 6 mins 59
This year was no different. The midnight blue sky felt like a suffusion of water on which the moon seemed to float gently with an ethereal current. Every time, the moon manifesting in a different shape, colour, contour and silhouette; yet being an unfading and elegant companion for the solitary. No light of its own, they say, but for me it was always lucent, resplendent and auroral; encompassing an inconceivable mystery. I knew tomorrow was Raksha Bandhan. And here I was glancing at the sky and thinking, will there ever come a day when the 17 years I was able to have with him becomes enough for the 17 more I never had. Tomorrow it would be 17 years since I lost him.
And if someone tells you it gets better with time, the person's lying to you. Loss doesn’t just evanesce. It doesn’t just leave us. It sits beside us, day after day, year after year. Sometimes it calls out softly, sometimes it shrieks, sometimes it rustles, but the throb and constant weight on the chest and head never goes away. Fact is, you simply learn to live with it and I realized that is what I was doing all these years.
And yet again my mind wandered to the phone call I received from home, 17 years back. “Can you please come home, he is no more.” I was holding the phone and standing there completely quiescent and motionless, losing my purpose and questioning myself, did I hear right? The throbbing didn’t stop; pained, distressed, bereaved and trying to go into denial mode, I leaned against the wall in a complete state of shock. My younger brother, who had just turned 17, was no more. 1530 kilometres away from my home I just didn’t know what to do?
Lucid memories of the day he was born, to the day he first entered school, his smile, his laughs, his friends, his first bike ride and the last look on his face when I had left him two months back, little knowing that this would be our last time. Upon reaching home, I realized death is unfathomable, perhaps only understood by those who have lost a loved one. Did it really end was my question when I saw his serene face and motionless body lying on the steel cot waiting to be moved away forever. I was 23 then, and not prepared for this in my journey of life. His infectious smile, his gentle heart, his unending stories spread across the empty room where he was no longer there; it was tormenting not only to feel his absence, but also to know it will never be filled the same way ever again. His cupboards were emptied, his school bag cleared, his books given away, his friends informed, his plate was no longer kept beside us for lunch, his games kept aside; I don’t know from where I amassed the strength to do this without a morsel of pain in my voice or tears in my eyes.
I was barely breathing and strong was the last thing I felt. "Be strong for your parents," said everyone and I nodded. But inside me, I still couldn’t seem to grasp the "why." Why did you have to leave? Why you? Why me? How am I supposed to be okay without you? Truth is, I am not. Not even after 17 years.
Tomorrow was Raksha Bandhan, celebrated on the day of full moon in the month of Sawan. Sisters applying 'tilak' on the forehead of brothers, tying the sacred thread around their wrists, doing 'aarti' and praying for their health, happiness and long life. Signifying love, divinity and transcendental sentiments, Raksha Bandhan is a perfect bond of protection with vows to stand by through thick and thin. He also did that for 17 years and I know he is doing that even now, except that the longing to see him just one more time on this day never ceases. Every Raksha Bandhan leaves me wondering how would he be like when he grew up, which Rakhi design would I chose for him, how would I send those to him or would I personally come to tie, what gift would he have sought, how would our sibling bond be and many other questions?
All these remained unanswered. As his elder sister, I would have looked forward to standing beside him through the vicissitude of life, wanting to shield him from the agony, give him all I had, staying up late and talking to him about the world, wanting to reconnoiter, wanting to laugh with him, cry with him and most importantly live with him.
I wonder what he would have told me on the auspicious day of Raksha Bandhan if he was here. And I wait, anticipating a response that will never come. But I know he is listening and we are cherishing our bond. I know universe is sending signs to me to let me know that he is doing fine and is at peace. I know he would hate it, but every Raksha Bandhan, I still cry for him. I still sit up at night and wish that he was here, beside me. I know that he is up there watching me. I know he looks down and shields me in a way no one ever would. I know we celebrate Raksha Bandhan every year in our own way.
I’ve tried to tranquilize back into my life, but it seems every time the phone rings, there is still a jostle. Who is it? Is anything wrong? Is everything OK? Perhaps that’s the anxiety that sometimes comes with tragedy especially when a piece of us goes forever missing. But needless to say, Raksha Bandhan always remains special – a bond like never before! Yes, it hurts when I see everyone celebrating it together but I know me and him are celebrating it too in our own special way. Time was less but the moments were priceless and Raksha Bandhan reminds me that come what may, our bond will only strengthen and grow with each passing day.
And just as I expected the phone rang and thankfully this time my body didn’t jolt. It was my mother, the woman who has been silently coping with the loss of her only son for so many years. “When is your next write up releasing? Dad and I are getting bored. So please pen it soon.” She knew it was Raksha Bandhan and she also knew that my writings became my safe harbor to sluice the pain, pouring ink onto paper where for a little while, I could let my emotions rest. And this is when my healing starts, with a euphonious blend of calm, tranquility and repose as my heart happily connects with his memories yet again on this Raksha Bandhan.