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Brothers in Arms
The only girl among three boys, I was mercilessly ragged and teased.
Their one stop entertainment channel.
Their unpaid servant.
Make me an omelet, one would say.
Coffee for me, another said.
Why me? Why always me? Make it yourself. I stamped my foot and threw a tantrum.
“Fine, I am off to tell Ma, that you went bike riding with…”
Okay fine! Thwarted, I stomp off in impotent fury. They double up laughing. I shake my fist at them. They laugh even harder.
I grow older, taller, and prettier. Besotted, I stare at myself – Mirror Mirror on the wall…
Snickers and muffled gasps from the window still haunt me. “Oooh isn’t she pretty – for a donkey?”
Skirt flying, I chase them around the neighborhood.
Mother catches me and thrashes me.
“Did you hear the poor lil donkey go heehaw heehaw?” They rub salt on my wounds.
They make me buy cricket gear with my Rakhi money. In return they allow me to fetch and hunt the ball from the undergrowth.
School and college bring distances and greener pastures.
I move on with my man, the love and light of my life.
All too soon, he showers me with curses, kicks and punches.
Sporting a black eye, I decline to go home for Rakhi.
I couldn’t face the boys’ howls of laughter.
They landed up to get their pound of flesh.
They whisked me back home even as he lay trussed up in a hospital bed.
Rakhi: An Indian annual festival wherein sisters of all ages tie a Rakhi (a decorative string) around the wrists of their brothers, while praying for his health and protection from all evil/mishaps. She in turn receives a gift from them and a promise to take the responsibility of her well-being.