Monday, August 27, 2007
The Fake Rakhi Brother
Rakhi, quite clearly, is a north Indian festival. Much like how nobody, up north, knows what the hell Karthigai is, there is less(er) awareness of Rakhi down south. Rakhi is actually a wonderful festival, which gives a lot of opportunity to express brother-sister affection. The biggest reason for me to like Rakhi was that it successfully kept out any notions of "Sisters Day" from creeping into our lives. Not having a full-fledged Rakhi did not mean that 'sisters' in south India never collected money from their brothers. The above-mentioned Karthigai and Pongal was vasool-time for sisters. So its not as if the land of 'Pasamalar' didn't have any time for bro-sis affection. It just wasn't celebrated with an explicit function. However, Rakhi had a very different context in Madras colleges, at least during my time. This post intends to uncover that dark seedy alternate version of Rakhi that I suspect may not be uncommon at all through out India. Before I set off, a disclaimer; This irreverence towards a honestly celebrated function means no disrespect to real blood brothers and sisters, who probably truly celebrate rakhi. This, as I said, is a commentary on the alternate rakhi.
I never had a sister. So I never had anybody (except a cousin who tied it 1 year) tie Rakhi for me. Frankly, I never missed it. I didn't like Pasamalar and wasn't a big fan of bro-sis relationship either. However, I always looked forward to Rakhi every year. That was because I was extremely amused by the nonsense that passed off in my college/surroundings in the name of Rakhi. Girls tied rakhi to boys who weren't really related to them. The said boy and girl didn't even look alike. Somehow this provided my cynical mind much mirth. Because the reasons for them becoming a fake rakhi sibling was always terribly funny. I was never a big fan of 'he is like my brother' or 'she is like my sister'. To me if you didn't have a sister, and I didnt have one, that was it. No point in trying to replace it with a robot, imaginary dream sister, cat, dog or some girl who turned you down.
Usually, though to be fair, not always, when the concerned man woman weren't related at all, the rakhi brother-sister relationship was an ikky one. Very shady to be precise. One of those vazha-vazha kozha-kozha things that made you wanna throw up. If somebody were working on the world's biggest loser thesis, they needn't go further than the fake Rakhi-brother. Such a relation usually meant the following things to me (a) the guy was interested in the ugly-rakhi-sister's friend so wilfully agreed to be part of this circus (b) the guy proposed to the girl, was turned down and the girl tied a rakhi on his hand to shut him out forever. The latter was most common. Infact a week before rakhi, the college would start gossiping if a particular girl would tie rakhi to her stalker or not. Some guys even went to the extent of bunking college just to escape the Rakhi love-gulliotine. Love is already a hard thing on the adolescent guy. The worst thing he wants to happen is have his chic end up as his rakhi sister. Typically a 'love' intent had several end states. It could be (a) he loves -> he proposes -> she accepts (b) he loves -> he proposes -> she rejects (c) he loves -> he proposes -> she rejects -> she suddenly accepts later (d) he loves -> he proposes -> he unfortunately become rakhi brother; and finally (e) he loves -> he proposes -> he-becomes-rakhi-brother -> -he-miraculously-becomes-lover-again -> she-accepts. Of the five possibilities option (d) is the worst because (e) is a non-zero possibility lingering like a carrot but very hard to achieve. Its hard to over-turn a rakhi-brother situation. At that time the girl definitely has an upper hand.
From a girl's point of view, it wasn't as if rakhi was an iron clad protector against the romeo. The guy is typically embarrassed, caught in an awkward situation. His friends are giving out sympathetic smiles and he isn't sure if he detected sarcasm in those smiles or not. He is pretty sure, his own rakhi-sister is secretly laughing her ass off, when she is with her friends telling them how she gave the proverbial nose-cut. Its not an enviable situation, to be honest. The loser who was unfortunate enough to get slapped with a Rakhi isn't going to just roll over and die. He hangs on because being a Rakhi brother is better than being an ex-communicated friend. I have actually seen loser-fake-rakhi brother trying to cool things off during this phase. They get to be this protective brother, pass advise to their loving sister on how they should be wary of these bad evil romeos. Sometimes the guy gets to play Mr. Bodyguard. He talks fondly and fake-affectionately about his rakhi sister, to his friends. He probably doesn't realize that his audience is secretly collecting information only to laugh (really loudly) behind his back. He does all this in the hope that she might, just might, revoke the rakhi sentence imposed on him. And it is true that some men have been successfull in overturning the most difficult love challenge of all. So there is hope for the loser after all.
I hope the youngters of today, the nasty rebel rascals, are continuing to uphold the glorious tradition of yesteryears.