It was the season to feel alone again. Divya was an only child and for most of the time she was fine with that but there were some occasions when she sorely missed having a brother. Rakshabandhan was one such event. All her girlfriends looked forward eagerly to this festival spending days looking for the perfect rakhi, pleading with their mothers to get new clothes stitched for the event and wondering with excitement what their brothers would offer them in return this year.
But these were hardly the things that mattered to Divya. For her, it was the feeling that was most important. The feeling of being loved and protected by a brother, of having someone to fight with and someone to hide behind. The feeling of not being alone.
She remembered the first time she heard one of the stories related to Rakshabandhan. A Rajput princess had sent a rakhi to the Mughal emperor Humayun asking for his help to save her kingdom from the onslaught of the neighbouring Sultan’s attack. ‘How noble, thought Divya. The rakhi is a beautiful way of connecting people beyond differences of religion and belief!’
Sitting under her favourite banyan tree, Divya fell into a reverie of solitude. ‘Who can I ask for protection?’ she thought, ‘All I have is my tree.’ Before she knew it, Divya was fast asleep. Or was she? She soon found herself in a magical garden. There seemed to be a special soft light coming from the leaves, and the birds and butterflies flew around fearlessly. She was enchanted and as she slowly explored the place, it struck her, this was her own garden actually, and here she saw her own banyan tree. But what was that on every branch? Delicate sparkling bangles of light seemed to encircle every branch and around the trunk were several strings all made of light! Divya was fascinated and whispered to herself ‘Wow! My tree is no ordinary tree!’
As she approached the banyan, she saw a little boy watching her from behind the tree. He had mischevious impish eyes and he seemed to be waiting for her to discover him. Divya was not afraid. She softly asked him, ‘Who are you? What has happened to my garden?’ ‘I am the spirit of the banyan,’ the boy replied, ‘and this is what your garden is really like – filled with the light of Nature!’ ‘What are all these circles of light?’ asked Divya. ‘Can’t you guess’ he said, ‘they are rakhis!!’I provide shelter and food to so many different birds and animals and they turn to me for refuge. These are the rakhis they have offered me! And in return I will protect them for as long as I live. The strings around my trunk have been wrapped by humans such as you. They are like rakhis too and are promises of mutual protection between us.’ ‘That’s what they are,’ thought Divya, who had often wondered what those strings around the banyan trees were. When she looked up again the boy was gone.
Divya woke from her reverie feeling refreshed and joyous. She knew who was going to be her brother. It would be the banyan tree! He who had always given her a loving place to rest when she was alone. He who provided so much to so many, without asking for anything in return. She jumped up in delight, no longer feeling alone and hugged the tree tight. With her eyes closed she could almost see him again – the adorable spirit of the banyan – her brother! The rakhi could help her create bonds even beyond differences of species!!!