Why do you look so hassled?’, I asked Mukesh, one of the office boys who’s otherwise always seen smiling from north to south pole. ‘Ma’am mujhe Rakhi ki chinta ho rahi hai,’ he replied. ‘Biwi ki chintaa karna chhod do, woh toh khud apne aap mein ek chinta hoti hai,’ I said, patting my own back for the silly joke. ‘It’s not my wife’s name, I’m talking about the festival,’ he grinned.
‘My sister will be tying Rakhi to me for the first time after she got married two months back. Not sure how much to give her. Sasuraal mein uski izzat rakhni hai.’ The Nirupa-Roy-in-1970s music suddenly started playing in my mind and I was about to begin a lecture on how regressive is it to stress about dena dilaana in today’s age, when he took off.
Later in the day, a freewheeling chat with Anurvi, Aarushi, Rohan and Abhishek – the bright, young interns in my office, made me realise that it’s me, not Mukesh, who needs a lecture in not keeping with the times.
Apparently the ‘Rakhi-stress’ never went anywhere over the years, it smartly reinvented itself into a new-age source of tension. Well, I have eleven fabulous brothers and have always enjoyed Raksha Bandhan as that rare and beautiful occasion to meet up with many of them together. But these young boys and girls shared their own take on the kind of stress, too, that this festival brings with itself.
Of course, how differently guys and girls view this stress is obvious, yet interesting. Let’s take a look...
The guys’ take
Rakhi is supposed to increase bonding, but makes some of us feel like bonded labour when we have to save up for the expensive gifts. ‘Sisters expect so much when it comes to gifts they want and don’t even hesitate in reminding us through the year,’ sighed an 18-year-old, not wanting to be named for the fear of taanas at home.
The others around him were quick to add. ‘The marketing gimmicks of companies don’t help and nor does the fact that Rakhi comes around the Sale season. My sisters demand top brands, chahe meri pocket mein paise ho yah nahi. Woh kehti hain tumhaara farz hai,’ said another, adding, ‘Arrey farz hai toh mujhe apni marzi se karne do nah. Why put pressure?’
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Also, the Rakhi gifts these days are not limited to some token money and a box of chocolates. Yesterday’s newspapers reported on a guy who has gifted an expensive weight reduction surgery to his sister on Rakhi. ‘My sister asked for a weekend package to a luxury spa or the latest smartphone,’ sighed Mr anonymous. ‘Main loan le loon toh bhi nahi de sakta,’ he laughed.
An additional stress is on those who have married, especially newly-wedded sisters. Apparently, the rakhi gift is judged big time by some in-laws and extends even to respected jijaji, as it’s an indication of the status. ‘Whatever we buy, it somehow doesn’t seem good enough. Aur do mahine baad Bhai Duj will come. Hamara toh band bajta hi rahega’ sum up the guys.
The girls’ take
‘Don’t make us a scapegoat if you can’t deal with your kanjoosi,’ screamed out the gang of gals when I asked them to react on this topic. ‘What’s wrong with me telling my brother what I want on Rakhi because he’s anyway gonna spend money, and will end up getting something not of my liking,’ said one Jhansi ki raani.
‘And now even brothers expect return gifts, so the pressure is equally on us,’ added another. ‘Rituals are a part of our festivals, we’ve not made any new rules. My brother has all the money to spend on his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. When it comes to Rakhi, he’s suddenly broke,’ pitched another.
‘My brother is married and I made sure I bought a silver rakhi that my bhabhi can wear it as a pendant later. When I can spend so much on the Rakhi, he can hardly crib about spending on my gift,’ argued a girl.
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Okay, okay warring parties. Take it easy. Yaar tyohaar hai...woh bhi pyaar-mohabbat ka. So arguing anyway don’t stand much of a chance, because despite the difference in opinion, it’s the brother-sister bond that’ll invariably take over. In my humble view, the only calmness mantra when it comes to Rakhi-stress comprises two magic words – ‘No expectations’.
Actually this mantra works in all other stresses as well but focussing on the subject, just imagine how peaceful it would be if we stopped expecting a certain treatment from another person. More than the actual behaviour of that person, it’s the pain of our own expectations going unfulfilled that hurts us.
Dekho, advertisers ka toh kaam hai aapki emotions ko exploit karna. They have vested interest in creating a make-believe perfect universe before every festival, every occasion. In this imaginary universe, sisters get diamonds and smartphones, and brothers get sisters who give a teary-eyed thank-you hug on receiving a mere box of chocolates. Both don’t exist in real life, except, of course, exceptions.
Don’t base your expectations on exceptions, base it on the reality of your life. If you are a sister, your love for your brother is not packed in an expensive rakhi, it actually lies in understanding the depth of your brother’s pockets. And for the brothers, just one advice – Crisis ke waqt sabse zyada behnein hi kaam aati hain, so this investment in unconditional love is quite worth it. Try it.
Sonal Kalra is hoping for no less than 20K from her brothers this time around. And an additional 5K for putting forth the guys’ viewpoint in this column. Tell her whose side you are on, at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra