Directly I opened my eyes this morning I knew it was Independence Day. The first intimation I had that things were about take a patriotic turn was the sight of a bevy of security personnel lingering in the neighborhood of the front lawn under the newly painted flagstaff with nonchalance written all over them, and the panjandrum of the safety staff with a vindictive whistle dangling from his mouth into which he blew intermittently. It was in fact the whistle that plucked me out of my dreamless and made me rush to the casement with morning eyes to inspect the proceedings downstairs. The proceedings had not begun at that hour and the final drill practice was in the process of initiating; but judging from the stray-lambish style of the would-be marchers I divined that an hour or two of wait was indicated before the celebrations.
My time sense was absolutely accurate, about two hours into the morning /I observed the group, now dressed in their neatest possible way and tucked in gloves and knee high white socks standing in proper line and a handful of citizens and two of the gardeners setting up the table and directing the event. The weather in Gurgaon being inclement most of us preferred to observe the actions from the cushiony warmth of our dwellings. I found myself hanging at my kitchen window with ample alacrity as the group started singing in a business-like way the Indian national anthem. Their collective voice rattled on. Inescapable, immanent; their auditory spectrum saturated with the clicks and pigeon sounds and patter of raindrops of cement. The song continued for a moment and then ended rather hastily on account of the raining gaining force and soaking the protagonists.
No sooner was the anthem finished, the flag was hoisted, and a series of hurried claps sounded and the security personnel did an attention pose, which I daresay disappointed me for I had the idea that they would do a formal march like the military men and school children. I remember my school days when perspiring in the humid landscape of Kolkata we practiced marching in the school ground one week before the Independence Day celebrations. Naturally, I had expected some such outcome in this case having seen this clique doing their alerts and marches in the morning on not less than three occasions in the past week. But all ideas of forward-marching was jettisoned when I observed the personnel disperse and then come back carrying food packets in plastic bags and start distributing them.
I walked back from the casement and drank a thoughtful cup of tea thinking about independence and our celebrations. The Prime Ministers enervated speech was being featured in the television channels; I wish the guy had more fervor in his speech, a dash of passion and vigor might do him some good in making people actually listen to what he was saying rather than yawn and change channels. May be I am sounding a dash unpatriotic in expecting an obamaesque makeover for our erstwhile PM; but let’s face it Indian political scenario, at least to me, is unattractive on account of its major players being either corrupt to the bone or lacking the heat of life. A herd of vintage colored snapshots with outrageously weird conceptions and believes have been loose on the premises for a time out of mind. I think it’s time we get some action and do a purgation of some sort to rid us of some these oldies and inject some loyal patriotic blood into India’s system
But where is loyal blood to be found? I wonder. Is there am ambrosial fountain filled with the minerals, or is there another treasure trove which guards the secret recipe? In any case, the India I see on this holy day is not the India I have in my mind. I agree that we have walked a long way, for years we have endured outside rule and accepted a subservient status, our treasures have been looted, out libraries burnt; but we have also waked away from such bludgeoning history and created a new and shinning India for us. There must have been hoards of loyal blood involved in this building process. And thus it sounds almost ominous when on this Independence Day the nation’s leader presents in his dreary old tone a list of should and woulds rather than solid steps against the cantankerous corruption issue eating away the marvelous country.
It is, however, always easy to blame and advise others. What have I done for my country? I question myself; I have been good, straight and caring. I have admired the heroes of the past and emulated them in my own way; but if solid renderings are taken into account, my score is nil. May be we all need to zap up our systems and be a little more active in guarding the respect of our country and remember not only on independence days but on all days our subservient history, our dramatic independence, and our corrupt, marvelous and dreamy present.
Happy Independence Day