Every year on Rakhi, their mom and dad used to buy things for them, which after the Rakshabandhan ceremony, they gifted each other. Adi and Pia used to receive similar gifts- mostly clothes, which left no ground for arguments since Adi would receive a jeans-tee set and Pia would get a frock or a jeans-top combo. However, if they got chocolates, excitement and anticipation would rage in their minds and they would compare their brands and tease each other over which was the more chocolaty of the chocolates. Soon, mom and dad started giving them chocolates of the same brand, in different packages perhaps but not different enough to make them quarrel.

One Rakhi, their parents changed tact. Mom had asked both of them to choose gifts for themselves instead of the ritual of handing them gifts to be given to each other. Ecstatic on getting to choose their own presents, Adi chose a Tetris game and Pia went with Hershey’s box of huge chocolates.

That Rakhi morning was an exhilarating one with the kids full of cheerful expectations and unlimited joy. As a result, Pia was extra polite while tying the rakhi on Adi’s wrist and putting the gulabjamun in his mouth while Adi was generous enough to offer his sister a sweet. After the rituals were over, the time for gifts finally arrived.

They handed each other their respective polybags, trembling with delight. Slowly they unwrapped their packages, savouring the moment of happy knowledge and playing at a make-believe surprise game. However, the game turned out to be true as their faces betrayed intense confusion and significant disappointment when the gifts were finally out in the open. Their gifts had been exchanged ! Mom confirmed their suspicions. They had chosen gifts not for themselves but for EACH OTHER. Hark! What a disheartening end to a hopeful morning! They had to contend themselves with accepting the others’ gifts and making ‘pacts’ and ‘agreements’ to use each other’s possessions.

Another Rakhi arrived but the previous year’s deceit had dampened their gift spirits. Coincidentally, they had had a bit of a spat a few days preceding the festival. Adi had told off on Pia to their mom. Pia had upturned the bowl of custard as she tried to fetch some water from the fridge. Adi had grabbed the chance and run straight to mom telling her everything. As a consequence, when the time for buying presents for Rakhi arrived, they did not put utmost thought into each other’s gifts because they were apprehensive about the other choosing mediocre stuff for them.

Rakshabandhan was finally here. The sweets were ready and their relatives had arrived. Mom was in a resplendent saree, dad in a dapper maroon kurta and the kids too sported elegant traditional outfits. The mantras were uttered, rakhis tied and presents given/received. As Pia unwrapped her gift, her eyes fell on the penstand that she had selected for her brother. On the other hand, Adi too looked flabbergasted holding the sketchpen set he had chosen for his sister. The siblings just couldn’t follow the kind of game that their parents were playing. It seemed that their parents would always outwit them in their quest of fostering love and affection between the two.

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