Happy Republic Day!!! I know its a few days late… five to be precise and all the patriotism seems to have fizzled out.
61 years of the Indian Constitution. A common man would have retired by this age. A few of the intelligentsia would say the same for our constitution.
Naah.. I am not going to write about our constitution, what India has yet to achieve, has India finally arrived, blah blah… Too much space, time and words have already been wasted on it. Besides I don’t wish to reiterate the same old views about which, let’s face it, no one gives a damn.
I don’t know and I don’t care what Republic Day means for others. But for me, it was just another day or so I thought.
26th January 2011, quite an early morning for me
My mum is literally shaking me up. “WHAT?” I can hardly open my eyes. “Get up.” “15 minutes more mumma. I slept at 4. Besides the sun hasn’t even risen yet.” “It has”, and she draws the curtains apart. I pull the blanket over my head and turn to the other side. I can hear her grumbling about my late night sleeping habits. I check my cell phone. It’s only 8… something amiss. No messages. I blink my eyes and check my phone again. No messages!!!!! Uh.. oh Republic day. No free messages perhaps.
I can hear a patriotic song which further irritates me . “Who the hell is suffering from this sudden surge of patriotism?” “Your Dad.” “Ugh..ask him to turn down the volume at least.” I bury my head under the pillow. My dad enters and then my parents discuss about “my generation” and its attitude problems. “Please.. I am trying to sleep.” “Oh yes, a princess can afford to sleep but perhaps an IAS officer cannot. Especially on Republic day.” Ouch! That hurt. My parents sure know the tricks. Exasperated, I finally get up.
I am staring at my wardrobe which is, as usual, in a mess. I can hear the song Rang de basanti… this time it’s not my Dad. Someone else in the society has caught the Republic Day fever. I smile and pull out a yellow salwaar-kameez.
I am having my breakfast. My mom gives me a surprised look and then smiles approvingly. I try to figure out and suddenly realize.. my yellow salwaar – kameez. Wow, I say to myself, the Indian touch always works wonders.
Our maid enters with a harried expression. While she is sweeping the floor I can hear her mumbling about our neighbour “holiday… more work.. what use is 26 january.. ***** will be home early from school and would nag me about dust in corners, under the sofa.. have to rush before she gets home.. on a working day I would have taken my own sweet time.” Just then her daughter, a sweet 11 year old, enters. I enquire about the Republic Day celebrations at her school. She recounts the ordeal as to how they were made to stand for hours. The chief guest was late for the flag hoisting ceremony. Then he delivered a long and boring speech. And perhaps the biggest disappointment for her was that this year no chocolates were distributed. I try to give her a sympathetic look.
The traffic is chaotic. I am still unable to comprehend if continuous honking makes the red light turn green quicker than usual.
A group of children asking for money approach our car. My dad reaches for his wallet. I want to protest but I don’t. Not that I am stingy or against helping the needy but I think giving money to these kids encourages begging. Also few kids today are selling the Tricolour instead of the balloons and other stuff. Smart huh!!!! Exploiting the patriotism. And surprisingly everyone is buying instead of shooing them off. A little girl comes closer to my window and extends the little flags. I want to look away but I cant. I hand her a 10 Rupee note and take one flag. She looks at me astonishingly and starts searching for change. She calls out to another girl asking for change. I tell her not to. The signal turns green and we speed off. Don’t know if it’s the pollution but I feel uncomfortable.
I am trying not to think about that girl. I switch on the radio. Another patriotic song. I switch it off. I wish I could switch off my mind as well. The Right To Education Act passed on 4 August 2009, came in to force on 1 April 2010. No, I am not thinking about this because of that girl. Only because I am supposed to remember it for a certain exam. I know that it hardly makes any difference. I have tried teaching kids in villages and I know how difficult it is to lure them to attend school. So will this fundamental right ensure education? Who knows. Who cares. And why the hell am I even thinking about it? I hate my mind sometimes.
I check my cell. So the messages ARE free. Seems like everyone was waiting for a Republic Day message which they can forward. I go through them. Don’t feel like forwarding any. Perhaps the most patriotic message is “Happy holiday.. Jai neend. :p ” I switch off my cell.
Walking back to my house in the evening. I spot something that looks like a tricolour lying on a heap of garbage at the other side of the road. I stop and stare.. yes it seems it was a flag. Respect!! I keep walking and don’t look back…
My mind is back at work.. respect for the National Flag.. ugh Shut up.
India Shining.. sure!