Independence Day

Posted August 15th, 2003 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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As a school kids Independence Day meant flag hoisting, a half-day at school and distribution of sweets. Attendance in school was compulsory, we would be warned previously and absentees always had a tough time the next day. We would watch the tricolor being hoisted, listen to a few speeches, sing a few patriotic songs and proudly pin a miniature paper flag onto our uniforms. After this brief ceremony we would rush home and attend a replay of the previous proceedings but with a different cast. We would sing the songs with the same gusto, applaud the speeches and stand solemnly during the flag hoisting as before. Freedom and freedom struggle was an abstract topic. I could probably reel of the names of the national leaders and may be even their birth-dates and death anniversaries but it was something that happened a long long time back.

By the time I reached high school, the enthusiasm waned. Attendance in school was still compulsory so we used to be present at the flag hoisting ceremony. However we stopped attending the “Swatantra divas samarambh” at the colony, preferring to go home and enjoy the rest of the day. I became aware of the distinction between the freedom fighters and the politicians. I realized that the leaders of the country are not automatically the greatest people in the country.

After I reached junior college I have not attended a single flag hoisting ceremony. Independence day became truly a holiday. It meant watching the Independence day parade relayed live from Delhi on the television and marveling at the different floats and feel proud of all the soldiers in their different colored uniforms marching in rhythm.. By this time I had understood that freedom struggle and independence was not something that happened long long ago but in fact just a few decades back. And that freedom struggle was not just one big glorious sacrifice but a long relentless fight spanning centuries with several moments of frustration, pain, anguish and hunger and deprivation.

By the time I reached engineering school, I stopped watching television too. Those few hours of staying in bed late seemed too much of a luxury to be sacrificed for watching TV. Instead I would wake up late to the sound of the loudspeakers in the colony blaring patriotic songs in both Hindi and Marathi. It was the time I realized that patriotism was not such something you unfurl on Independence Day and those days when India plays Pakistan in cricket but something one should practice daily.

Over the years the less I celebrate Independence day in a conventional manner, the more I realize the wonder of having a civilization that goes back 5000 years and more, of a country that has such a variety of culture and a freedom struggle and freedom fighters whom I truly admire and whose sacrifices awe me. I have forgotten the dates when Pandit Nehru died or when the Tilak was born or the day when Quit India movement started. But now I am aware of Nehru;s idealogies, Tagore’s works and Gandhiji’s views. I claim to understand and appreciate Indian history a little better than when i remembered all the dates and could spout the 10 reasons why the Irwin Pact was signed.

Books :

Minority Report and Other Stories by Philip Dick. Very interesting short stories..Science fiction is a genre I have not explored much and I am enjoying ever bit of Dicks works!
The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri: .A very nice collection of short stories. Simple and effortless writing.
The Sonata and other Stories by Leo Tolstoy: Discovered a fellow Indian girl at my work place who won me over by coming to meet me with this book once she realised that I love reading.

Movies:

Darna Mana Hai: Simply loved the movie. Admitted the ending was a little slack and needed a bit more thinking but the rest of the 2 hours was worth it. Every story has one delicious quirk, which I loved. What’s more, it reminded me of my annual visits to Kerala , when my cousins and I used to sit and night and tell each other a lot of such quirky stories some allegedly true but most of them made up at that minute. I especially remember a story about a monstrous hand which sprang up from absurd places and strangled its victims and how one of my cousins couldn’t sleep at night because she was scared ,she could see a hand on the bedroom wall. It was my brothers cricketing gloves !

Achanak : An Interesting movie by Gulzar about a convict (Vinod Khanna) who is nursed back to health by a team of doctors and a devoted nurse ( Farida Jalal) only to have him hanged after he is well enough. Vinod Khanna who is terribly in love with his wife ,murders her and his closest friend when he discovers them together. The interesting feature of the movie is that it does not excuse this adultery nor make it a case of “galat fehmi”.

Websites:

Wonder why some cars got their names….here is one view or rather several views!!
INDIA ERAS [Here is one for Independence day!….Amazing link]

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