Raksha Bandhan celebrates the love and bonding of brothers and sisters. On Rakhi Purnima or Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie the sacred thread ‘rakhi’ on their brothers’ wrists and pray for their well-being while the brothers pledge to protect their sisters. Raksha Bandhan is a combination of two words ‘Raksha’ (protection) and ‘Bandhan’ (bond) and together it means a bond of protection. Myth has it that when Krishna cut his finger once and Draupadi tied a cloth to stop the blood, he promised to protect her always.
There are many historical references to Rakhi. When Alexander the Great invaded India, his wife Roxana tied a thread on Porus’ hand and he promised to protect Alexander and Roxana. When Porus was about to kill Alexander, he remembered the promise and spared him. It is said that Guru Nanak received rakhis from his sister, Bebe Nanaka. This day is not only about tying a thread but also close sibling relationships. On the auspicious day, a brother takes a vow to protect and shield his sister from any harm or evil that comes her way. But how many brothers actually keep their word? Sunday POST met a brother who shielded and rescued his sister when her in-laws and husband tortured and abandoned her. He has been looking after her for the last 40 years. He is truly the embodiment of the spirit of sibling love.
Nrusingha Charan Sahu, a septuagenarian from Cuttack, was the eldest of seven siblings. He was very close to his two sisters. Being a responsible brother, he dreamt of solemnising his sister Sukanti’s marriage with a deserving groom.
“We, brothers, left no stone unturned to arrange a perfect husband for my sister. Her marriage with a contractor, who was a graduate, was solemnised in 1964. We fulfilled all the dowry demands of the groom with the hope that he would keep our sister happy forever.”
The initial years of Sukanti’s conjugal life were good. However, when she failed to conceive even after two years of marriage, her in-laws and husband started torturing her. Her husband went into depression and became addicted to liquor and marijuana.
Recounting Sukanti’s plight, Nrusingha says, “In those days, no one blamed a man if a woman failed to conceive. People used to take it for granted that there must be some problem with the woman. Both her in-laws and husband did not think it necessary to consult doctors. Instead, they tortured my sister. My brother-in-law was so frustrated that he left his house and started living in an ashram. But he fell into bad company and started consuming liquor and marijuana. As the eldest sibling, I fought for my sister’s rights. I tried to resolve the issue through consultation with her in-laws and husband. However, I was unsuccessful. One fine morning, I decided to take her back to our home. When I reached her place, she was completely taken aback to see me and started crying inconsolably. She told me ‘Had you not arrived now, I could have committed suicide.’
Did you ever repent your decision? He says, smilingly, “Parents never feel bad about looking after their kids. Though Sukanti is seven years younger to me, I always treat her as my daughter. My family members, including my wife and children, never raised any questions when I brought her home. But there were outsiders who gave me unwanted suggestions which I did not pay heed to.”
In fact, Nrusingh attributes his successful family life to Sukanti. “She is not only an asset to our family but also to our village. Whenever she finds anybody in pain, she extends a helping hand. If I talk about my own case, she has literally saved my wife’s life. Some months after Sukanti’s return, my wife was paralysed for two and half years. Apart from dedicating herself to the care of my wife, she looked after my children and took care of their every need. Her care helped my wife recover speedily. Besides, she was also there when any of her siblings was in difficulty. Whenever any family member was admitted to hospital, she spent sleepless nights and dedicated herself to their care. I still remember the day when she came to Hyderabad with me after she came to know that my son was suffering from chicken pox and was critical. My son was searching for a job after getting an engineering degree. He was residing with his sister and brother-in-law when he came down with chicken pox. My son recovered fast thanks to Sukanti’s care.”
Nrusingh, who was a contractor earlier and is now a social activist, continues: “Sukanti always thinks about others’ wellbeing. Be it winter or summer, she waits for me to reach home. What I have done for her is nothing compared to what she has done for my family and village.”
He adds, “She is famous in our locality as Suka Apa. Not only has she dedicated her life to the service of my family members and other fellow villagers, she looked after her ailing husband who left her when she needed his support. After residing for a few years at an ashram, my brother-in-law came to me and started living with us. He was so addicted that his food pipe was infected, and he underwent colitis operations twice. She did not neglect her husband at all and took care of him like her baby.”
When Sunday POST met 72-year-old Sukanti, all she would say is, ‘Mo Bhai Mo Pain Bhagaban’ which means ‘my brother is God for me.’ After we persistently asked her to tell us her story, she said, “I could have died had my brother not come to my rescue. I got a new lease of life because of him. He took me to his home and never made me feel as if I am a burden. His generosity did not end there. Though my husband tortured me when I failed to conceive, my brother gave shelter to him and bore all his medical expenses when he underwent operations twice. My husband had behaved very badly with him when he lost his mental balance. But my brother never uttered any derogatory words against him. He also did all the funeral rites when my husband died two years back. His list of good deeds does not end there. He looked after my ailing father-in-law during his last stage. For me, he is a godly figure. He understands my feelings before I express it and looks after my every need as if I am his daughter. I am grateful if I can do something for him. He is everything for me.”
RASHMI REKHA DAS, OP