Vande Mataram

August 15th seems different this year. Something is missing. I had purchased my mandatory flags yesterday. No paper flags in market, all plastic. Shiny, bright, and indestructible. I wondered if they were made out of the required 50 micron recyclable plastic. The snotty nosed urchin pushing it in my hands couldn’t tell me the price. In fact, he looked barely old enough to walk –forget about talking. I looked around for his older sibling, a street savvy youngster with a gleam in his eyes. He recognized a sucker. Instead of handing back the change for my ten bucks he handed me five flags. His cheeky grin disarmed me completely.

So today I have five flags fluttering in my balcony. In my white kurta – chudidaar, draped with saffron and green dupatta, which I wear only twice every year, I felt ready to greet the day. My bro remarked rather unkindly that they should forget the flag and hang ME instead.

I sipped coffee, still trying to figure out what is missing. Then it suddenly occurred to me. There was no blaring sound of patriotic songs in the air. The basti near our house took it upon themselves to keep every one’s spirits high. Usually I cursed them. Today I missed the cacophony of sounds.

Our maid arrived. I demanded to know why there were no songs, no festivities ? She told me that the person who used to play them had lost his cassette player in rain floods. It brought me back to earth. No wonder Aug 15 is different this year.
May be I am different too. More grown up, dragged into maturity, kicking and screaming, unlike that urchin who is selling flags at the age of three, who takes responsibility for granted.

I switched on the TV and watched the glass encased Prime minister for a while. Then I stepped out of the house, feeling a little lost. The slight drizzle had made the streets wet. There was a soggy flag hanging on the flagpole in the square near my house.

A group of children in school uniforms stopped me. As they surrounded me, I wondered if I knew them as looked for a familiar face. One of them pinned a flag on my dress and they all wished me Happy Independence Day in a loud and cheerful chorus. Their faces shiny, happy and bubbling with youthful energy. I felt my spirits lifting as I returned their greetings.
Nothing had changed. The spirit of the Independence Day was still alive


r r said…
hi niti!!!

i felt like i was there with you as i read it ...
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