For the Brothers

This August full moon, it’s down to recycling my Raksha bandan post from two years ago.

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Raksha Bandan – Bond of Protection

When I lived in Zambia my family celebrated Raksha Bandan, a North Indian festival that honours the love between sisters’ and brothers’. It falls on a full-moon in August every year.

My parents, aunts and uncles took a day off work, we a day off school. We wore traditional Indian clothes and jewelery, and gathered at one if the homes.
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My mum, aunts and I picked out beautiful rakhees weeks in advance. There is a range of choice, from simple threads to more extravagant ones with mirrors and gold fringes. A few years ago there was one that played a popular Bollywood song. This year the fashionable rakhees have green, red, and shiny diamond-like stones on them.

I always chose the simplest threads and tied one around each of my brother’s and “cousin-brother’s” wrists. This gesture was to symbolise my love for them. In return my brothers’ had the duty of protecting me. From what, I wasn’t always sure.

After I tied the rakhee, we hugged each other. I always whispered an awkward, “What are we doing guys? Do we need this string to symbolise our feelings?”

I was the pain-in-the-ass, no fun girl who wasn’t into rituals, or for that matter, kitsch Bollywood dance because as a classical Indian dancer, Bollywood dances were corrupt versions of the real thing.

So, back to the hugging, after that we fed each other Indian sweets that my mum and aunts had prepared over the last week or two. In return, the brothers’ proudly offered me envelopes stuffed with notes.

Next was my mum and aunts’ turn. They tied rakhees around their “cousin-brother’s” wrist. He was the only one in Lusaka. They sent the others theirs in the mail, without fail.

My dad received his two rakhees by post, usually in good time. Since his sisters lived elsewhere it was my job to tie them. I got two envelopes from him as well.

Once it was all done, we’d have a big meal, and spend the rest of the day together.

When I left Zambia at 16, I forgot all about Raksha Bandan. One July my mum called to remind me about it. She asked if I’d sent all the boys a rakhee. I replied that I hadn’t so she quickly bought some on my behalf.

On the full-moon day, she called me. My little brother had refused to wear the rakhee since it wasn’t an initiative of mine. I was taken-aback. I had no idea that this really meant anything to him, or to any of them.

I immediately apologised, and ever since, I’ve made a special effort. I don’t always send them a rakhee in the mail, but I call or at least email.

This year, my mum only “reminded” me about it yesterday. There is no way I can get them rakhees in time. Phone calls will be in order, and a promise of more planning and organising for the years to come.

In my mum’s typically thoughtful and unimposing manner, she mentioned, by the way, “I’ve sent you a rakhee that L can tie around R’s wrist, if you guys want to do that of course.” I can’t wait to see the mini-rakhee.

My brothers are dearer to me than I can express. I do in fact feel safe, supported and strong when they are around.

So why not have a special day that celebrates the bond between sisters and brothers.

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Raksha Bandan This Yeara

Raksha Bandan – Our Version

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This morning – Our version – two rakhees, one each.
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Pre-school and a Post at Multicultural Mothering

My kids have been in pre-school for almost a week now. Thankfully, the transition couldn’t have been smoother. Day 1 was fine. They didn’t really know what they were in for.

Second day Rahul wouldn’t let go of me. Leila waved good-bye, and tried to get her brother to let go of my hand. “Come on Rahul, let’s go.” There was kicking and some crying.

At lunch that afternoon Leila looked at me and said, “Where are you from?” I was taken aback and unprepared for that one. I wrote about it at Multicultural Mothering. Please drop by when you get the chance. Also, mums out there who want to share a story, please, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Third day being a Monday, I was a little apprehensive. Both of them went into their class room, put their folders into the basket, took their snacks in, flashed big smiles and waved good-bye.
Me: Bye guys, have fun!
Leila: Bye.
Rahul: Have fun!

At the end of every school morning, they are tired, almost collapsing into our arms. The first thing they ask for is MILK! No signs of trauma, so all is good…

Maher asked them if they made any friends in their class:
Rahul: Yeah, mi fan (Chinese for rice)
Maher: I think we have rice for lunch. But, what are your friends names?
Rahul: Uhhhh, mi fan, spinach, and whiskey.
Maher: Ah OK, you have 3 friends already!
Rahul: Yeah.
Leila: And my friends are Lili, Dede, Dada, and Juju.

Today was day 4. On the way to school Leila was whimpering, “but I don’t want to go to school today.” I asked her what was up. “Because I’ll be with myself (alone).”
Me: You’ll be with your teacher, Rahul, and all your friends. And we’ll pick you up when you’re done.

They enter the classroom and go through the first few bits of the routine. When Leila found her name for where her snack box goes, she was very proud. They both smile and wave good-bye. I noticed a hint of excitement in their eyes!

 

 

Cool Doctor

I’m posting at Multicultural Mothering today, about the evening Leila rolled off our bed and had a concussion. Thankfully, she was fine. But it’s also about our Super Cool Doctor, and the generous people around us, who went out of their way to help.

Hope you can drop by!

 

Zamsick

I’m posting at Multicultural Mothering today about finally going home. It’s been 9 years since I returned to Zambia. I can’t believe I can say that, and I know it’s mainly due to my complacency. Now that Leila and Rahul are in the picture, I’m motivated to get us all over there. Soon.

I’ve wanted to write about my feelings of nostalgia for a long time, but didn’t know how to tackle the subject. Heidi sent me an article 2 weeks ago, The New Globalist is Homesick, and suggested I share it at MM. I thought I’d be able to whip up a post that very day.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The idea that we can and should feel at home anyplace on the globe is based on a worldview that celebrates the solitary, mobile individual and envisions men and women as easily separated from family,from home and from the past. But this vision doesn’t square with our emotions, for our ties to home, although often underestimated, are strong and enduring.