A special bond


The energy at home when the kids are around is palpable. And this manifests in many ways that only moms notice. Shoes in the exact angle they were taken off, left by the door. Bags, wallets, keys, and now masks as well! All these are clues to locate the kids when they disappear into their own rooms. And these bits and pieces of their presence breathe life into the walls of our home.

This last week, my son discovered that his sister had gone from one bedroom, which my son uses for his classes, to continue sleeping in another bedroom. Her bed was unmade as she literally sleep-walked to the other bedroom and plopped there!

My son stared at the unmade bed, grabbed my daughter’s quilt, bunched it up and walked purposefully towards the other bedroom.

When I asked him what he was going to do, he said, “I am going to throw this on her.” And I ran behind him trying to stop him from irritating his sister.

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And as I entered the room, I saw him gently putting the quilt around his sister and tucking her in.

My throat catches for a moment. I get back to work with a smile.

A sister reminisces…


It is late in the afternoon, and my mom and I are stretched out on the couch in our living room. My mother is visiting, and we use this time to catch up, sharing things that we miss out on, when we talk on the phone.

Our conversation meanders through the lanes and bylanes of our lives, and we find ourselves reminiscing about the past.

My mom walks further down memory lane, and smiles wistfully, as she fondly remembers her childhood, especially her three brothers, two older and one younger.

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She shares pages from that time in her life, when she was a young girl with long braids and colourful ribbons.

Her older brothers would come home from college or work, and call out to my mom to help park their bicycles inside the compound. This was one of the highlights of her day. From her height, the cycles appeared enormous, and she would step on one pedal and push the bicycles inside.

My mom recalls how she was tasked with the job of picking up a Tamil weekly magazine from the small shop at the end of their street. This magazine was eagerly awaited every week, and all the siblings devoured it with fervour. My mom knew that once the magazine went to her brothers, she would not get to read it for a couple of days at least. So, right after she picked up the magazine, she would sit in the verandah of her neighbour’s home, and quickly read her favourite sections, which included jokes and a short story series. And only then would she pass on the magazine to her brothers!

Later, when she joined the National Cadet Corps, and had to leave for training early every morning, the eldest of her brothers would buy a take away masala dosa for her to eat after training, just so that his sister would not be burdened with the task of carrying a lunch box. The masala dosa was usually packed in a banana leaf, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, which she could easily throw away.

My mom’s eyes mist over as she recalls this – a simple gesture from her brother to make his sister’s life easy.

The other brother, my mom recalls, would give her a crisp ten rupee note every morning, when she left for college. Come rain or shine, the money would always be there on his table, even if her brother was not in town.

When my maternal grandmother was pushing my mom to get married early, as was the norm in those days, my mom was strongly supported by her brothers in her desire to pursue her education in university.

As for the younger brother, who was much younger to my mom, he was her pet, and she fondly recalls how she carried him with her wherever she went, when he was a baby!

Both her older brothers are no more, and she closes her eyes, recalling their love and unconditional support.

For just a few moments there, my mom became a little girl in pigtails again, feeling secure, indulged and loved by this special love that brothers and sisters share.

We Indians celebrate this deep and special bond today, where the sister ties a rakhi on her brother’s wrist, and he in turn promises to love and protect her.

‘Tis a brother-sister thing!


Today is Raksha Bandhan, a day that celebrates the special and deep bond between brothers and sisters. A day when sisters tie raakhis on their brothers’ wrists. A day when the brother promises to care for and protect his sister; and also gives her a gift.

A truly beautiful celebration indeed!

In our home, we celebrate this special bond every year. I have the raakhi and other paraphernalia required, ready for my children.

Image courtesy – Dreamstime.com

They stand in front of each other. My daughter picks up the raakhi and ties it on my son’s wrist. They don’t say much. They just high five each other, exchange a quick hug, and go their separate ways.

There is no talk about a gift.

It is business as usual, they are each back in their own world, where the other does not exist. When they do acknowledge each other, they tease each other ruthlessly, argue constantly or ignore each other.

I observe this.

The day has flown past, the sun has already set. My kids are talking animatedly. Very soon, my son comes to me and tells me that he is taking his sister to the mall nearby for a treat, and to buy her a gift.

And before I nod, the two of them are already at the door, arguing about something inconsequential, as all siblings do.

I smile. I walk back in.

Many years from now, when my kids move out of home and make their own lives, these bonds will deepen further.

But this bond, this love – will always be expressed this playfully, through silly arguments, high fives and awkward hugs!

‘Tis a brother sister thing, after all.

The Imperceptible Nod – A short story


Aryan sensed that it would be one of ‘those’ weekends. He had gone home that weekend to unwind and catch up on some well deserved rest. He avoided prolonged conversations with his mom, because all she wanted to do these days was to get him to meet her friends’ daughters.

Adding to this aggravation was his happily married sister, who came up with lists of girls, who would be the perfect match for him.

Truth be told, he knew he would eventually marry, but right now, the thought of marriage scared him, and with his workload he hardly found any time to date.

A young man is no match for two determined women, and so he listened to both of them raving about this beautiful, young lady named Rhea, who worked in the same city as he did. Rhea was a teacher in a renowned private school, whose sister had gone to school with his.

He nodded without really paying attention. His mind took in a few words here and there, but he was more worried about whether he would reach home in time to watch the final of the soccer match on TV.

Finally, they spared him, and after quick hugs, and reminders to call Rhea, he drove back.

Once back at work, the weekend, and sleep, seemed like faraway destinations. He was into IT sales and  was busy chasing his number targets, meeting prospective customers and trying to close deals.

A couple of weeks later, he had a meeting with a new prospect – a private school. While he waited in the school’s lobby, he suddenly remembered that this was the school where Rhea worked.   He looked at the school through a different lens now.

There were two smart ladies manning the reception desk. He walked up to one of them and asked, “Hmm, Is there a teacher named Rhea, who works here?”

“Yes, sir. Would you like to meet her?” asked the receptionist.

“Oh, no, actually. I just know her through somebody”, he said.

And desperate to change the topic, he said, “Could I have the school brochure please?”

The receptionist replied, “Sure. Are you looking at admission for your children?”

He nodded vaguely, imperceptibly – a nod that could have meant a yes or a no! The receptionist walked over to a shelf and picked out some literature about the school. He thanked her and went back to his seat.

Suddenly, he heard the receptionist calling out to him, “Mr.Kumar, that’s Ms.Rhea. The one there in the grey dress.”

And as he turned to look at Rhea, he heard the receptionist calling out to her,  “Rhea, there’s a gentleman who wants to talk to you about school admissions for his children.”

He looked shocked as Rhea made her way across the lobby. She was beautiful.

“Mr.Kumar, I am Rhea. I teach primary classes here and am also the admissions coordinator for junior school. I understand you are looking at admitting your children here. What can I help you with?”

Aryan said, “Good to meet you. No, I mean…no children, I mean, (he realized he was blabbering). “Sorry, I am actually here for another meeting – with your IT department, so if you could give me your card, we can catch up at a later date?”

They exchanged business cards.

“Sure, no worries”, she said and walked away with a wave.

He had blown it and how! That irritating receptionist…grrrr. He would gladly throttle her.

Then again, the problem was non-existent. He would just not call Rhea again, and it would end right there. So what if she thought he had children.

He went on with his days, the incident completely forgotten.

A few days later, his sister called him to say that she was in town and asked him if they could meet up for lunch and if she could bring a friend?

He booked a table at an Italian restaurant. At 12.30 pm he was seated at the table, busy checking his email. He heard his sister before he saw her.

He looked up with a smile, and stood up to give her a hug. He froze when he saw that his sister’s friend was Rhea. His sister made the introductions and winked at him.

The colour drained from his face. Rhea smiled and looked at him as if his face was familiar. He could see that she was trying to recollect him from somewhere. She wrinkled her nose in concentration throughout lunch.

He wondered what his sister had told her about him. His sister looked at him strangely and was trying to make up for his lack of interest in the conversation.

Finally, and thankfully, the nightmare ended. His sister looked rather grim and said to him, “I will call you.”

From Rhea’s face, he knew that she had not placed him yet.  Thank God for small mercies.

The two ladies walked away and he breathed a sigh of relief.  It was over. He only had to give his sister some story about his strange behaviour during lunch. That would be a breeze.

He went home early and settled down before the TV with a drink. He was channel surfing, when he heard a ping on his phone.

It was an email about admission procedures at the private school where Rhea worked. It was signed simply as Rhea, Admissions Coordinator.

He cringed that she had placed him, and had let him know it this way.

Well…you can’t win them all, he thought to himself.

Sibling banter


Last night, we wound up after what was a very long day for all of us.

I sat with the kids, listening to their friendly sibling banter, my mind focused on my ‘Things to do list’. Only a few things they said actually registered with me.

image

     Courtesy – http://www.dreamstime.com

One word,  ‘birthday’, made me look up and pay attention. The conversation went something like this.

Son: My birthday’s coming up in a month.

Teen daughter: Wow, yes. What are you planning?

Son: I think I am too old for b’day parties. I will, maybe, have a few friends over.

Teen daughter: Why don’t you want a party? You did the same thing for Halloween. You did not want to go trick or treating.

Son: What’s wrong with that?

Teen daughter: You are growing up too soon..you need to enjoy these things at your age.

(I think, “Wow, my daughter is really giving good advice)

Son: Hmmmm….

Teen daughter: Just remember, if you give up all these things too soon….and then expect to eat all my Halloween candies,  that I gather after hours of planning and make-up, think twice. NO WAY will you get them.

Hmmmm……! So that’s what it was all about…I go back to planning my schedule with a smile on my face.