CONNECTED BY AKSHAY: BONDS AND BEYOND

Raksha Bandhan is around the corner and for the first time ever, Neha will not be able to do what she has always done. Long before this time, she would have asked me ‘when is Rakhi mom? I have to buy and post it in time so it reaches Akshay’. Neha started tying Rakhi to Akshay since our Gorakhpur days in 1987 and a few years later, to her cousins in Bangalore/Mysore as well. Since being separated from Akshay at age 17, she would post the Rakhi’s. For her twin, she would choose a ‘classy yet showy Rakhi’– just as Akshay liked it, and write him a long, funny ‘love letter’ with it. Akshay always waited eagerly to wear the Rakhi, flaunting it even among the soldiers in his unit! Since their wedding, first Sangeeta and then Naina have ‘tied’ Neha and Mini’s Rakhis on Akshay’s wrist. And Akshay would call me days in advance to ask stuff like ‘Ma kya gift loon Neha ke liye?’ If I suggested something like a book (Neha loves books), he would say ‘book nahin ma…something bigger and better…… surprise karoon, ya usiko choose karne doon?’

 

 

 

 

 

As I write, wherever Akshay is now, he seems to be reminding me of another conversation we had way back in 2010. I had written real life stories on him (Colour of the Uniform) and on nephew Satwik (When a Teenager Taught us Lessons) for a ‘Chicken Soup For The Teenage Soul book’. Akshay was thrilled with his story and I could picture him blushing as he thanked me for writing it. Then he added ‘Next story Neha par likho ma. Please.’

It has been seven years since but the voice urging me to write on his sister is back. No longer can I ignore Akshay because now, his wish is my command. I know that unlike Akshay, you Neha, have always chosen to be ‘private’ in terms of sharing emotions, pictures and stories and so far we have respected that. But this time, Akshay wins. ‘This one is for you Neha Sweetie’, as Akshay would have said. I promise to try and keep it short! This, through me, is Akshay’s parting gift to a sister he clearly adored.  

As always, it is hard for me to know what I am going to write until I actually start. Then the words flow and letting them flow has brought me this far- connecting and bonding with so many of you. So here I go again.

Even as tiny babies, your bonding was obvious when you communicated in a language we didn’t understand- looking and smiling at each other, reaching out to touch each other’s faces and crawling at full speed as you played your shared version of ‘hide-and –seek’, behind curtains, under beds and bed-covers. When you held your own milk bottle so I could hold Akshay in my arms and feed him, held his hand on the school bus when he cried while starting school, and jumped in to save Akshay when a group of boys were beating him up in the playground, you instinctively took on the role of protecting Akshay. Maybe because then, he was smaller and ill so often or maybe because, being considerate and kind is how you were made to be.

You shared a million secrets in the growing years and hid your fights from me and dad. Once when I noticed nail marks on your face and asked, you said Akshay and you had had a fight but when I yelled at Akshay and gave him a whack, you were in tears. Angry with me you said ‘I told you because you asked. That does not mean you should yell at Akshay’. I have never forgotten that reaction and lesson from an 8 year old.

He shared all his crushes with you and wrote you the sweetest letters. They usually started with ‘Hey Sweetie’ or ‘Hey Honey’ didn’t they?! And you called him your ‘best brother ever’, even sending him a ‘Valentine’ card?! And before he left for NDA, he gave you a tiny bound book with a note that said:

gift-before-nda1.jpg

I love the fact that as siblings, you re-wrote some gender stereotypes – he was better at Languages and you at Math. You had a large group of common ‘buddies’- both girls and boys. You took turns to ride and sit pillion on the scooter, went for treks, movies and even to pubs together! You supported each other a hundred per cent. He made it a point to travel to Manipal when you no longer had common vacation breaks and you made it to NDA, thus extending your circle of friends. It was his turn to become protective of you when you went to college.  In responding to Akshay’s concerns on a college trip to Goa, you wrote, ‘Don’t worry, I promise to not swim in the sea…. will only step in to wet my feet’!

When Sangy became his love, you were Akshay’s confidant and although you were studying in the USA, your communication remained just as close. He was thrilled when you chose to come back after a year and half of working abroad. He wrote to me on your 25th birthday saying:

This birthday….  and also on regular days… it often troubles me that we are all not in the same country… missing Neha ever so much and not being able to do anything about it… thinking of her and just wondering how she is and of all the beautiful times we have spent together.. cherishing every moment of what we have….. I reallyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy miss her… and I want the best for her and want her to achieve everything she wants to in life… Im sooooooo happy that she has taken the decision to come back.. and that we can get back to planning life more easily… and that I can just fly and see her at the drop of a hat…..’

Thank you for everything mumma and papa…. thank you for Neha too…. she’s perfect.. 

That Sangeeta and you have bonded so easily from the first meeting gave papa and me so much joy! You became such a happy threesome- enjoying long chats, outings and vacations and much later, a foursome when Pradish entered your life. Akshay was the happiest and the most emotional during your wedding. I can’t help but feel so sad that Akshay and Pradish did not get enough time to cement what was the start of a wonderful brotherhood. Here is Akshay’s loving post the morning after your wedding.

To my darling sis Neha Girish

From when u used to push my pram, allow me to be seated next to u in class, share your laddoos or even gave me a hand when I was in a fight.. U helped me grow better….
U helped me study, came to my rescue in school, showed me glimpses of the college life I never had and even made me a party to the amazing group of friends u have.. Helped me grow better…
U went on to do big things, did them rather well.. Became a scientist ( now a senior one, I love it when u say ” senior scientist “).. U made me proud and that U r doing so well pushes me hard too.. U still help me grow better…

On this wonderful day when you are a WIFE.. Ur gonna be the reason another man,
Sripradish Kapikad is good too and you’ll help him also grow better.. and to take this beautiful journey ahead, let’s do it with a family selfie… Cheers 🍻 to u my darling sis.. And to Sripradish … Ur in amazing company and hands Bro..

family

Coming back to the present, when I expressed how sad this Raksha Bandhan is going to make you feel, Sangy immediately said ‘Neha will now tie Akshay’s Rakhi to her Bhabhi’. Bless you Rani. You have shown your strength and your love. And you know you have another brother in Pradish. That Neha and Pradish locked up their home to move in with us for two whole months during our darkest hours, means we truly share tremendous emotional and physical support.  Akshay must be the happiest to see us all so bonded, stronger than ever. Now, with a caring extended family across India and beyond, you have a much bigger band of brothers and sisters also there for you.

I look up the net on how Raksha Bandhan originated and am happy to see it isn’t just about a sister tying Rakhi to her brother and he promising to protect her.

Raksha Bandhan is an Indian festival that celebrates the bonding between brothers and sisters, even if they are not biologically related. Though it is primarily a Hindu festival, it has long surpassed communal borders and is celebrated by many across the country and abroad, regardless of religion. Mythology depicts several episodes that refer to the ceremony and historical references – ancient, medieval and modern, and strengthened the humane faith that promotes its universality.

The origin of Raksha Bandhan refers to the time when Indrani tied a thread given to her by Lord Vishnu around her husband Indra Dev’s wrist, to protect him during the war between the Gods and demons. According to another version on a Sankranti day, Krishna managed to cut his little finger while handling sugarcane. Rukmini, his wife, rushed to bring some cloth immediately while Sathyabama sent her help to get a bandage. Draupadi, who wasn’t related to Krishna, was watching all of this and simply tore off a part of her sari and bandaged his finger. In return for this deed, Krishna promised to protect her in time of distress.

In Historical references, widowed Rani Karnavati who ruled Mewar once asked Emperor Humayun for his help. Mewar had been attacked twice by Bahadur Shah and as a ray of hope she sent a letter to Humayun with a Rakhi. The emperor who was in the midst of another military campaign then left everything to go and protect her. Unfortunately he did not make it in time to save her, but he did help restore Mewar to her son.

In 1905, Tagore urged Hindus and Muslims to tie Rakhi on each other’s wrist to express solidarity with one another. The call of Tagore was adhered to by members of both the community. Hundreds of Hindus and Muslims in Kolkata, Dhaka, Sylhet came out on the streets and tied the knot of unity with one another. However, Tagore’s vision of a unified Bengal was short-lived. Three decades later, the venom spread by communal elements was strong enough to permanently dent the pluralism of Bengal.

It becomes obvious now that Raksha Bandhan isn’t just about tying a Rakhi and getting a gift, nor is it restricted to siblings. It is about promoting a brotherhood which can extend from within the family to across the country and the world. If only we can expand our minds and hearts.  I hope that we as a people can look beyond ourselves this Raksha Bandhan and take from an ancient practice to support and protect each other, by taking sides with what is good and right, irrespective of religion, region and social status.

It continues to be a turbulent year, not just for us as family, but also for our country. So many internal issues and threat of aggression from the enemy across our borders are undermining our democracy. I hope we will move ahead of symbolism in becoming much more united and determined for Bharat Raksha. Our brave soldiers cannot be supported enough for doing the toughest job of protecting our nation, so often shedding blood, and sacrificing their lives in doing so.

Coming back to Akshay and Neha, isn’t it incredibly amazing that when Akshay sent us his last whatsapp from the firefight, the only one that fateful day of 29th November 2016, the instantaneous response was from Neha? Considering she is not usually neither so communicative nor so prompt, I as their mother cannot put it down to mere co-incidence. Was it the ‘twin sense’ that made her see and reply to his message, at that very second when he communicated that he was in danger?

7c-copy

The other day, Mini (Akshay’s other sister) told me that she is also missing him more than ever but feels that his unseen energy somehow protecting her. Maybe he is closer to her now, because she is all set to be a mother soon? Sangeeta’s sister Vineeta also felt that way while she was expecting her second baby. I really hope that is true- that he is around loved ones.

I take this opportunity to wish my brother Hari, all cousins and also each one of you, a very happy Raksha Bandhan. The nostalgic old numbers ‘Phoolon Ka Taroon Ka…..’ and ‘Mere Bhaiya, Mere Chanda, Mere Anmol Ratan…..’ will for sure move you beyond mere words. Please click on the links below and enjoy the emotions and bonding.

 

 

 

Thank you for staying connected.

May God Bless Us All.

Meghna Girish.

 

 

48 thoughts on “CONNECTED BY AKSHAY: BONDS AND BEYOND

  1. Meghna Aunty its so touching… i never miss anything u share about Akshay…tears r rolling down my cheeks….Akshay must be happy seeing that u have fulfilled his wish by such tremendously heart rendering piece of writing..love u all n tons of gratitude to u and family..
    Jai Hind….

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    • I hpe so Shweta….fulfilling Akshay’s wishes is my goal…until I live. Lots of love and hugs to you. Thank you so much for your sweet message. God bless your family.

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    • Hello Meghana Aunty,

      I love the way u write . It takes courage to recollect memories and pen them down .. knowing they ll hurt you more . God bless all the Girish’s. Need not mention this as your angel Akshay is all above to take care of you guys.

      Kudos to Sangeetha for the thought that Neha will tie Rakhi to her . Strongest women ever

      Love to all of you
      Kavya.L

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      • I am drawing on all the reserves Kavya- and I think the courage comes from Akshay. Nothing can prepare one to face such loss and yes, he is our guiding star. Happy Raksha Bandhan o you and your family. Love and God bless

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  2. Meghana I have no words .I cannot stop the tears in my eyes .since I don’t have a sibling and always missed one I had always thought about having two kids but that god had a different plan .So it really saddens me to think of Neha considering the type of bonding that she would have had with a twin .Reading this has left me totally speechless and can’t think of anything.
    God bless sangy and for her to think and tell Neha that she will tie her a Rakhi ,I just want give the two girls a tight hug .

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    • I know Sucheta…makes us realise we are so insignificant in the larger plans of God or the universe. All each of us can do is try and fulfil our responsibilities with a smile. Give the girls your hugs when you come here. And Lots of love and hugs to you.

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  3. Beautifully written.. brought tears to me eyes. Sibling bonds are special and can never be forgotten. Believe me when I say that I was thinking of Neha as I was writing a letter to my Rakhi brother. God Bless all of you in the family as you all are reaching out to each other providing strength at the most difficult times. Truly, Rakhi is no longer a tradition to be observed only with girls tying Rakhis and seeking protection. It is now more of a bond of friendship and love. It is a difficult time for all of you and may God be with you all.
    Lots of love
    Ruchi

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    • God bless you and your brother Ruchi- touched you were thinking of Neha. Thank you so much for your concern and sweet thoughts. Love and hugs to you. Happy Raksha Bandhan again.

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  4. 🙂 in awe – always ! You and your family are so full of love, positivity , togetherness and strength. A perfect inspiration to choose better values each day and happiness , pleasure and success are side effects of the same!
    Thank you

    Lots of love and Regards
    Take care

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    • Believe me when I say this Ankita, as a mom who is mature and has seen terrible loss, the only path ahead, no matter what life deals any of us, is being positive and caring towards those who matter to us. Rest is not in our hands. Lots of love and hugs to you. Best wishes for all good things in life. God bless your family.

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  5. Again a write up which spreads love, compassion and positivity ! Aunty each article inspires us to move forward with happiness and cherish life much more than we do . The strength in you as a mother gives us so much courage to all of us. And as Neha ties Rakhi to Sangeeta , I’m sure Akshay will be happy with his twinkling smile that how befittingly his Sangeeta fits into each role bravely. Warm regards and love to all of u.

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  6. Beautifully written aunty:)
    I haven’t seen my brother for seven years now as he is in USA studying n working.it brought me back to the wonderful times we have shared together. This bond remains no matter the distance.
    As u said Neha has more brothers and sisters standing by her side despite of Akshay surrounding her even more now.
    Lots of love to Neha, Sangeeta on this Rakshabandhan.we always knew our Sangeeta was strong and we love her all the more for her courage and strength.

    Lots of love to everyone at home
    Adity

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    • So true Adity- the sibling bond is not given the importance it deserves. Gives us all so much emotional security doesnt it? And Akshay -Neha shared one that was more specail than I can say- its just that Neha is not as expressive as Akshay was but feels just as strongly. Lots of love and hugs to you and God bless your brother and family.

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  7. Pranam aunty.. Yesterday when I saw Rakhi in market, it remainded the picture of lil Nainu tying it to Maj Akshay.
    Beautifully and emotional article. Could not hold tears. I do not have brothers and we are 3 sisters. We use to tie Rakhi to didibhai, my elder sister. A big salute from all of us to Major Akshay and the family! Jai hind.

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    • Such a wonderful tradition- so glad you have celebrated Rakhi with your didibhai. Lots of love to all of you. Take care. God bless

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  8. Yet another beautiful and touching piece aunty, sad though it is that he is not here with all of us …yet he has become a motivating spirit for so many of us and truly as brave as always our sangy is delivering… neha and akshay sure mst hv shared a beautiful bond of true friendship and love…

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  9. Such lovely memories aunty. Can’t keep the tears from falling. Was just listening to a song that reminded me of Akshay. When we remember the fallen, we think about the spouse, kids, parents and somehow forget the siblings. Brothers and sisters who have grown up with them and are best friends, specially in Akshay and Neha’s case with them being twins. Lots of love and blessings to Neha.

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    • So true Priyanka- most tend to forget that siblings share love, friendships, difficulties and good times since birth. Its a wonderfully close bond thats not given the importance it deserves and that’s sad. Akshay-neha were like peas in a pod. Happy Raksha Bandhan to you. With love and hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So touching and emotional meghna mam.each of your article inspires us you really have a very supportive family God bless you all.Happy rakhsha bandhan to you and to your family members.

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  11. Dear Meghana
    I have no words to express myself, so beautifully you have expressed the love and affection between Akshay and Neha, such a priceless bond this is,one can’t just fathom. And I love Sangeeta for what she said to Neha about tying Rakhi to her. Lots of love nd hugs to all three amazing girls.

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    • So sweet of you Gayatri- I will tell the girls. Its been very hard on Neha and most people dont realise the extent of emotions a sibling goes thru when such tragedy strikes. Happy Raksha Bandhan to you all. Lots of love and hugs and God bless the kids.

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  12. Dear Aunty, this article brought tears in my eyes. It was very touching to read about the bonding and relationships. all I can say is that Neha a is a blessed twin sister. Loved what Sangeetha said… I am running out of words but you are all in my thoughts. Sending you lots of love to all of you on this special occasion.
    -Amritha

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    • You have a loving brother too Amritha- its a bond that is a huge – love, friendship, loyalty, emotional support – you know how siblings stand by each other and Neha -Akshay were peas in a pod. Its been very hard on her. Happy Raksha Bandhan. With love, hugs and God bless

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      • Yes aunty… I always say the best relationship in this world is the siblings relationship… no matter before or after marriage… it is special in its own way…. Yeah I remember my mom used to say whenever she scolds Anto, the first tear drop will be from my eyes… I still say my first job in this world is being the elder sister. Thank you for the wishes aunty… Lets all cherish the siblings relationship we have been gifted with….

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  13. Namastey Meghna Ma’am,
    Wow is the word, for another part of Connection… The bonding between the Neha and Akshay was awesome… Coz she knew him approx. 8 months more than anybody else…
    Neha ji… Sense of indemnity in Maj. Akshay must be because of you…you protected him when he needs… And He protected our Motherland when Nation called him….
    Happy Rakhsabandan to You and Sangeeta Mam…please take care you all…… JAI HIND

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    • Such a thoughtful response Amit- touched by your words. Yes, the twins shared an amazing bond and its a very sad time for Neha. She has been strong when we needed it most but now I see her low and teary so this time, …its visibly tough on her. Happy Raksha bandhan to you too. Take care son. Love and God bless

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  14. Awsome write up aunty,had tears as i read through.Such a strong msg by Sangeeta that rakhi is more than just a biological relationship between a brother & sister.Maj.Akshay must be very proud of you all today, the dhruv tara must be shining very brightly today.God bless u all.Aunty seeing Maj.Akshay & Neha’s childhood pic gave such a happy feeling hope my home will also shine very brightly with my kids soon.hats off to the spirit of such a loving family and happy rakhi.

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    • Your home will shine just as brightly Lisa- soon. How are you keeping- good health and cheer? Thank you- Neha is going thru a very difficult time- feeling low. Her cousin’s name id Dhruv and Akshay is a tara for sure. Take care beta. Lots of love and God bless.

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      • Feel Neha’s pain very strongly,God will give her the courage to sail through.I am good am due on 9th Jan.thank you for your love & blessings.

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  15. Hello Meghna Aunti
    good day
    I read all your posts from last few months and its very heart touching. I feel proud to be an Indian because we have very brave soldiers who scarified their lives for us. salute them and their families. very big heart all of you. I am also daughter of an army person and i can feel unaccountable scarifies from soldiers’ family. some feelings can’t describe in words but i really feel proud on your brave heart family and brave son
    love to sweet Naina god bless her with his blessings.

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    • Thank you for reading and reaching out Lalita. True, we are a large extended family and our brave soldiers protect us Indians with their lives at risk. Bless the bravehearts. God bless your family. Love and take care.

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    • Glad you like them Ramya. Despite pain of loss, hope has to be held onto. Such is life. Akshay has done our family and country proud throughout his life and sacrifice. Least I can do is tell people who care ….Love and God bless you. Take care.

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  16. Just listened these lines on radio… & the frst person who came in my mind is your beloved Son Akshay!!

    Amazing words by him: For Sangeeta & Naina(I guess)

    Kisi gajre ki khushbu ko mehekta chod ke aaya hoon…..
    Meri nanhi si chidiya ko chehekta chod ke aaya hoon…….
    Mujhe apne sine se lagale tu Bharat mata…
    Me apni ma ki bahon ko tarasta chod ke aaya hoon….

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    • Such sadness….yesterday was an even more difficult day Ritu. Thanks for your thoughts of Akshay and us. We shall overcome. Love and God bless you and your family

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