Sometimes monsoons arrive late. Be it global warming or the moodiness of nature, but sometimes they do. They don’t arrive when little kids tilt their heads backward and pray to God for the rains to arrive, no, not because they are concerned about the drought but rather because their vacations are on and a few rainy days shall add quite a bit of fun to them. No, they never arrive during that time. Monsoons arrive when the schools have reopened. They arrive then with a thundering rage and an appetite for being precise. When kids are en route to school and adults are on their way to work, thunderous rains shall arrive crashing in, drenching them all from head to toe, for somehow water seeps in through the raincoats and the winds tend to find the umbrellas at their most vulnerable. Once the schools and offices have commenced, the dark clouds of the monsoon rest at ease, preparing to shower their wrath, during the late afternoon, for they are precise enough and you know why? The narrative of the incident that follows finds its plot amidst the lash of late monsoons, late enough to extend their welcome to the festivity of ‘Rakhi’.
Pitter-patter, pitter-patter, I could hear the innumerable drops of the rain that ensued outside, clash with the shed that harbored the window, beside which I was lying. Monsoons had been at their best during those days and the least welcomed humidity had also started to linger in the environment. I felt a coating perspiration developing on my forehead and wiped it off in an instant, as if a reflex, only to realize that my palm bore a shade of red. I always used to do that, I still do – during pious occasions, I always forget that I am donning a tikka on my forehead and tend to wipe it, every now and then, smudging it into a mess. My mother had placed herself beside the telephone and appeared to be anxious. We had celebrated ‘Rakhi’ in the morning itself and though the evening was on the verge of decline, she had not received a word from her dear brother -my uncle. He resided in Australia and every year, my mother used to send a Rakhi to Australia, to him, which he generally received before the occasion. He used to call her upon receiving the Rakhi, all joyous and gleeful. But this year, he had, as of last evening, not received the Rakhi, thereby worrying my mother. I had already tried my best to convince her to not make a big deal out of it, lecturing her that if not today, he shall receive the rakhi by tomorrow, but she declined to abide by my words. When I realized that my words were nothing but meaningless when it came to saving her from the worry, I gave up and sat by the window, listening to the voice of nature. I untied the rakhi that my sister had tied around my wrist. One has to be very careful when it comes to untying rakhis for the delicate ones are quite fragile when it comes to force. But my careful attempt was fruitful. I held it in my hand and studied it. It was a traditional rakhi, with an orb-like structure in the midst, studded with decoratives and engraved with designs, with two threads originating from either side of it. I stole a glance at my mother, who was sitting by the phone. My maternal grandfather had passed away when my mother and Uncle were quite young. My grandmother had followed him in the time that arrived. But my mother and Uncle, though devoid of parents, had always stood together for one another when they were growing up. Deriving excerpts from the stories that my mother used to tell me, she donned the role of a mother when it came to singing a lullaby to Uncle, to make him sleep when it came to cooking food and feeding him, she donned the role of a father when it came to motivating him to earn a name for himself, when it came to admonishing him to keep him on the right track and off bad habits, when it came to educating him of the world and the prospects it held, she donned the role of a teacher when it came to helping him in studies and guiding him through the doubts that arose in his mind, but she always donned the role of a loving sister that she was, being more like a friend to her growing brother, advising him always, never judging him but always reasoning out with him on issues that didn’t bear their mutual nod. I studied the rakhi, more closely than ever. The phone rang.
I could hear my mother happily acknowledging the news of my Uncle having got the rakhi. He had got stuck in some work of prior importance and hence couldn’t call earlier. The happy chatter of my mother subsided and the pitter-patter of the rain reigned in my ears, and the orb of the rakhi, reminded me of a womb of a mother, from which originates a brother and a sister, two threads from either side, flowing across a curve to finally acknowledge each other in an embrace, in a bonding, in a love, the knot of them invigorating the fact that they shall always stand for one another, in times of need – forever.