“You have to fight for freedom and once that freedom is achieved you have to fight to be free within that freedom” ~ Michael Sage
My heart swells with pride the moment the national anthem is sang or heard; be it at the podium of the Olympics games, a sporting event, in educational institutions or in a foreign land. That feeling is held captive within, which none can steal. The anthem is a beautiful mix of what makes us Indian, a reminder that beyond all odds there is an INDIA which is one at its core.
However the pride I talk of isn’t a one off instance of overflowing patriotism that surfaces only on the day of an event or whenever it plays. This pride was sown from the time I was told stories of freedom struggle, the bloodshed, the pain, the anguish and the want to bring about change. There is a history which is precious, the told and the untold. We live by the known and hope the unknown wasn’t that far from the known we learnt or were told.
Today the pride is still strong, but it has only got stronger for reasons which history was not part of. Our freedom fighters fought and fought till their last breath for something called Independence. That independence which we take for granted today. They fought like there is no tomorrow and stood united irrespective of caste creed belief race and all that what makes us cringe today.
Where is that pride gone, that we held captive deep within? Whatever happened to the unity which kept us together given the confluence of so many divisions? Today we exhibit our heroism but only for our individual cause or the cause of our community. Today we unite only for our own. Today we take pride only in or who belongs to us. How did this shift take place? Who is responsible for this? How come the only thing that kept us together is keeping us away?
We stand today in our 70th year of Independence with questions glaring and staring at us. This day is a constant reminder of why this very day exists and the reason we celebrate it. First we fought foreigners on our land and now we fight our own. Who was the bigger evil then? BUT then let’s not discredit ourselves all together as there are instances of pure humanity which shines through in troubled times.
This Independence Day calls for real independence. The one that not only speaks but allows, permits, extends and let’s co-exists. We are today hounded by foreign elements called fake news, fake agendas, foreign interest, conflict of interest, unaccounted money, blame game, infighting within communities and against communities, diktats, fatwas, circulars, etc.; and we thought natural disasters are dangerous. Today what you speak is more important and not what you do. Where how you dress is more important than who you are. Where my gender matters not my merit. Where my sexual orientations are questioned but not our deeds. Where everything is questioned for the sake of questioning, let alone getting answers.
So then where are we heading? From where we stand today, the bad isn’t that bad yet, because somewhere that hidden pride wants to speak out, wants to be known, want to voice itself. That pride was gifted to us to not squander but ponder as to why that pride is so integral part of our independence. If today we can sing our heart out under the Tricolor without any diktat or pressure, then we can proudly say I am an Indian. That pride within will automatically shine through for all to see.