I received a lot of rakhis today from my sisters and cousin sisters.
But the most treasured one was from a Muslim lady who regards me as her brother.
When I was a lawyer in Allahabad High Court among my close friends was Afsar Ali, advocate in the High Court. He was elder to me by a few years. He had married late in life, and had 4 small children ( 3 daughters and a son )..
Every year on Eid he would invite a group of 4 or 5 friends to his house in Daryabad for dinner. He was a conservative Muslim, and we never saw his wife as long as he was alive, as she was in purdah. But she used to prepare delicious non vegetarian dishes for us.
I became a Judge of the High Court in 1991, and a couple of years after that Afsar Ali died. His widow sent me a message that she wanted to meet me, and I requested her to come to my residence.
There she told me that her brothers in Rampur had asked her to come there with her children, and live there.
I told her that she should not shift to Rampur, as after some time she would not be welcome there. I said that she had her home in Allahabad, and she should remain here, and I would get her a job in the Allahabad High Court, so that she may be able to have an income to feed her children. However, I told her that she must give up her purdah now, as she would have to fight it out in the outside world, from which she had been till now largely isolated.
Accordingly i got her appointed on a class 3 ( clerical ) post, and I told the Registrar General to post her in the High Court library, where the work was lighter, and she could go home early. This enabled her to support her family, which she did
All this happened over 20 years ago, but every year since then on rakshabandhan day she has been regularly sending me rakhi, and also coming personally to tie it on my hands whenever she could. The written message to me every year ( with the rakhi ) says '' Apne bhai ka farz nibhaya ''
Now all her 4 children are grown up and well settled. She has several grandchildren.
Today she came all the way from Allahabad to tie rakhi personally on my hand.
She told me that she has now become a bench secretary in the High Court, and earns over 50,000 rupees a month