The day and date flit around my consciousness not really embedding itself in it. All through this week, I see mentions on Twitter, on Facebook, on the news. I skim through it all, a ghost of a smile playing on my face. I feel compelled to acknowledge, to recognize what it means like I did till about a few years back. The tricolor, the hoisting of the flag, the tiny flags pinned to my school uniform. They all swim around the edges of my head, hazy and blurred.
I wake up today wishing my birth country a happy birthday. I wonder what people of my mom’s generation feel. They were closer to the energy and excitement that independent India was. Some of them grew up in the shadows of those who risked all to free our country. Some grew up with stories of loss, of rampant nationalism. The khadhi, the charkas, the pride of ‘make in India’. Vestiges of a past touch my present. I am not sure where memories and stories merge.
There was a time when I celebrated. A time when I labored over making tricolor sweets. A time when I dug around in my clothes closet to find clothing that represented national pride. Today though, I feel disconnected and dispassionate. The disconnect stems from a lot more than adopting another country. It comes from being removed from the immediate India for years on end. It comes from watching what is happening through tinted glasses, knowing whatever it is will no longer touch you.
I scroll through the memes and images that are crowding my timeline today and wish just for a moment for an India that is free of jingoism. I wish for a country that recognizes the wealth that resides in its native remedies and a hoary past that has seen way too many invasions. I wish for a nation that surges past the chains of bureaucracy that holds it back. I wish most of all for a country that prides itself over others.
Happy Birthday India!