Not that mama. In hindi, maama refers to your mother’s brother, your maternal uncle.
These unsung heroes are brothers to their sisters. The same brothers who used to pull their sisters’ hair and run off with a week’s worth of sweets. The same brothers who would not include their little sisters in their games.
When their sister’s husband died, they stepped in as the man of the house.
When their sister went through a divorce, they took in their sister with three sobbing children into their homes and provided for them for the rest of their lives.
When their sister’s children were in trouble, they gave all their money and time in making sure they got out of it; they watched over them.
When our mothers were in trouble, maamas stepped in to be our mamas. They placed us in their laps, were our ‘horsey’ and gave us rides on their backs. These massive men with their beards and broad shoulders and large hearts raised us as their own children.
Maamas aren’t the men we are used to. They are men with women’s hearts. They are maternal men.
These men have devoted their lives running their sisters’ households, raising their children. Selflessly, with no complaints.
They amaze me, these men. By the power of a simple thread, they stepped up as men and hoisted their sisters upon their shoulders, made their worries their own. They made sure their sisters or their children never wanted for anything, never felt alone or scared.
Somewhere along the way, these little boys grew up to put an arm across their sister and wipe her tears. Such is the power of the rakhi.
We, your nieces and nephews, who have grown under that tree of your love for your sister, would be lost without you.
Here’s to you, maama.