I was a feminist even before I knew what the word meant.
If my parents asked me to do any chores, I would insist my younger twin brothers did the same. I would not do anything that they were exempt from. As young as I can remember, I was a feminist. A born feminist. It’s in my genes to sniff injustice, rebel, and stand up for my rights.
Like most Indian families that celebrated all festivals, we celebrated Diwali and Christmas with the same enthusiasm. However, one festival that was a complete no for me was Raksha Bandhan.
My brothers longed to flaunt those colourful threads in front of their friends. Girls from their school and neighborhood would tie them Rakhis. Not me.
Who did I need raksha from? I was the Rakshini herself. I argued.
Besides, I’m the older one. I’m there for their protection always and vice versa. We don’t need a thread to prove anything to anybody. That was my logic, and my brothers understood it in time.
Years later, I had a change of heart for one Raksha Bandhan. I think it had something to do with the overdose of oxytocin post maternity.
Am I over-thinking for a festival dedicated to sibling love?
Did I rob my brothers of their childhood joy of flaunting their sister’s love in front of their friends?
Guilt took over. I decided to make-up. But, just once only! My feminist core reasoned. So I bought two ‘Rakhis’ for the first time in my life to tie for my brothers.
“Are you mad?” This time, they laughed.
That’s when I came to my senses. This is not me. We don’t need a thread to show and prove our love to anyone. We are always there for each other in good, bad, and ugly times.
I’d traveled in my student years in buses and trains, dined in restaurants, and shopped alone. Looking back, I did a lot of things solo without ever needing male permission or protection. Apart from my feminist beliefs, it was also to do with my intrinsic nature that yearns for its independence and solitude.
I loitered during the day on my bike and went out to nightclubs with friends. I could just be. I knew well that with freedom comes responsibility—to live up to my parents’ trust in me.
Like most women, especially Indian women, I get stalked, proposed, and subjected to unwarranted attention, whether online or offline. But I can tackle such problems on my own, as all adults do. It’s no big deal, really!
I’m enough to protect myself. That’s also my message on this Raksha Bandhan Day to my daughter, who is an only child — “The hero lies in you!”
(Author’s Note: This post is not against or intended to hurt any religion. These are my personal views on an age-old practice based on the flawed thinking that women are weak, and need protection. Yes, times have changed, and so have traditions too. In some homes, both the brothers and sisters tie each other rakhis and that’s fair. My message is simple – Adult women don’t need protection. Instead, let’s talk about safer laws, stricter implementation, and reformative practices to make the world safe for everyone.)