I struggled my way through the bus door, carrying the heavy bags in my tender hands, lingering my eyes along the seats lined, only to discover that this journey would be a tired one for me. Not even a single seat was left vacant. It was rakshabandhan this weekend and the crowd in the bus really showed it. The bus was full of young brothers excited enough to go home and meet their sisters to bestow them with wonderful happy gifts and promises of protection and love. I adjusted myself in a safe corner away from the thrusts and squeezing of the arms and stood supporting myself along the railing of a seat. On that seat sat two young men discussing their plans for the occasion. Their excited voices amplified as they started boasting about the expensive gifts they had borrowed for their respective sisters. “FAMILY MEN” I thought and felt happy for their sisters who were really blessed to have such caring brothers. Their discussion continued but not our journey. It had been half an hour since we were stuck in a jam. For obvious reasons everyone in the bus felt helpless and terrible as the scaling temperatures added to the mess. It became all the more difficult for me to continue in that standing position. I had my eyes fixed on all seats if any one could just get up and offer me their seat. Just because I was a “stranger” and not by blood anyone’s “sister” no one adjusted or offered their seat to me. I felt miserable. Had these happy men sitting besides me their sister along with them they wouldn’t have left any stone unturned in securing a seat for her. But no one really noticed me. I preferred to ignore this disturbing thought and switched my thoughts to something else. Two minutes later these guys disturbed me from my positive solace as they shouted swear words to the driver. I had heard these hindi cuss words a thousand times in my life (a sister cussing word) but never did I feel the impact of it the way I did at that time. I wondered at the irony of these men who were selfish enough to love only their own sisters. Just minutes before this incident they were boasting about their love for their sisters and now they sat swearing not even aware of the words they used. Not only these two men I am sure there are hundreds of men like them who promise protection to their sisters yet are not ready to give the respect or dignity that any other women except their own sister requires. They can use cuss words aiming at any girl, even mothers , they cannot offer comfort to women who are strangers to them but yes they very much respect their own sisters or women directly related to them. I am not saying that these men use the swear word consciously to belittle any brother sister relation but yes they can always consciously not use this word after realizing the real sense of these words. How many times do men and nowadays even women think before they degrade a brother sister relation to dirt? Not even once , its a habit!
Is it not our responsibility to curb such habits? Instead of gifting expensive watches or dresses to your sisters pledge to give up one bad habit of yours. Reducing 3-4 words from your vocabulary won’t take much of an effort but doing so would definitely make this Rakshabandhan true to its spirit. Rakshabandhan means giving the brother sister bond its true respect.
Besides this lets pledge this RAKSHABANDHAN to give all girls (whether she is or isn’t your sister, mother, friend, girlfriend, wife or neighbor) the respect she deserves. We cannot socialize this message beyond social networking sites but as responsible men and women we can surely pose an example. We can show thousands of ignorant men and women what it means to respect. I would sincerely request people who regularly travel by bus to please offer your seats to women and old people because maybe you are the only safe brother in the entire bus. Another man may be preying upon the girl standing next to you with eyes of lust. She may get secretly and silently molested without anyone even noticing it. So offer her your seat to prevent such incidents. The way fathers and brothers restrict their daughter’s and sister’s timings and clothes to some limits to prevent any kind of mishappening, the same way we can also prevent a hundred such incidences. Make the girl sitting next to you feel comfortable and not vulnerable sitting next to you. This rakshabandhan when your sister ties the thread around your wrist promise her respect, give her a sense of confidence to face the world. Make her believe that clothing restrictions on her is our fault not hers. And don’t give this gift of invulnerability only to your own sister but to everyone’s sister as well.
Every moment you are surrounded by a hundred sisters who aren’t related to you by blood but all of them have brothers who promised them security like you did. They are alone and with strangers like you. Fulfil the promises that their brothers must have done to them. Make a pledge in providing security to them and not eye upon them as pieces of meat. Only when all men see all women around them with the respect and dignity of a sister, will they be able to protect them and make them feel comfortable in the surroundings of unknown men. Gift her respect and a gender neutral world. That is what we as sisters need! Not a thing more and not a thing less!
And one more aspect we all need to realize is that rakshabandhan should be returned to its initial symbolic position where a rakhi can be exchanged between people of any sex and relation as a promise of security. We need to treat rakshabandhan more than a gift exchange festival between a “strong” brother and a “weak” sister.
A caressing hand ran across her hair,
Providing her comfort and care,
Her eyes shined as she dreamed her future,
only until they were destroyed by nature.
She grew up to fear every man,
Molested as if a used can,
Who was to know why she kept so quiet,
Maybe somewhere someone denied her right.
She suffered alone as she treaded her way,
Sad memories behind her smile so gay!
The caressing hand unaware of her fate,
promised to be her mate,
Only after years so long,
Did that man know what went wrong!
He promised again to protect her always,
but he couldn’t always accompany her in every race.
But he did his part,
And wished upon every girl with the same heart!
The trouble came down encouragingly,
Negatives taking their flee!
Responsible took the power,
Providing every sister its deserving bower!
The world was way to safer now for her,
A caressing pat again around her fur!