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 was not going to 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.
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.
So, my brothers longed to flaunt those colourful threads in front of their friends. Girls from their school and neighbourhood would tie them Rakhis. Not me.
Who did I need raksha (protection) from? 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. 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 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 side reasoned. And so I bought two Rakhis for the first time in my life to tie for my brothers. This time, they laughed.
“Are you mad?”
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 have travelled 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 protection. But that was more to do with my intrinsic nature, that yearns for its independence and solitude.
I loitered not just during the day on my bike but also went out to nightclubs. I could just be. But I knew well that with that freedom comes responsibility—to live up to the trust that my parents had in me—and I did.
Like most women, especially Indian women, I get stalked, proposed, and subjected to unwarranted attention, whether online or offline. But I’ve learned to tackle such problems on my own.
I’m enough to protect myself. That’s also my Raksha Bandhan message to my daughter, who is an only child—
“The hero lies in you.”