The past is the present. Ancestors’ lineage and blood reverberate in every cell of my nerve and I for Identity never fades away. Cynics may call it discarded emotion or false patriotism. My great grandparents toiled in this colorful land, countless emotions, thousands languages and religions, we call India.
India may be born as an Idea. Historically and culturally rich, we stand tall as we verge to the past disowned or discarded by many. For me, it is not an idea but a country representing seamless, a metamorphosis on what makes me who am I as the person and the values I choose to stand for. Symbolism or grandiose effects have no place in my life. The wounds of the past and the displaced or uprooted from their lands as scars taking years and decades to heal, the people, grandfather, grandmother, mother, father taking the shape of ME. Tokenism is an over abused word. I am patriotic in my way, the actions and the things completing me as a person, adhering the rich legacy that gave form to the Indian constitution and secular values teaching inclusiveness and diversity, respect for every religion and ethnicity. This is my India.
I may be faraway from the land I call my own but the heart swells with pride every August 15, the national flag fluttering in the air and Jnana Gana Mana soars that even non-believers’ hearts are not left untouched. My patriotism is my patriotism. Your patriotism is your patriotism. I ain’t judging your thoughts. The freedom to walk the Indian streets and roads beyond city or village borders, the right to make love or sashaying into a new world is enshrined in the principles of democracy and constitutional values. Ever wondered why countless Indians making a new land their own are still touched by everything desi, food, culture, cricket, music and films beyond age and time. No short cut for we are not in quest of God but the voice of the dead and buried remaining alive through us. Our ancestors whose heartbeat thousand times for the country. Beyond emotions, traditions and manifestation, the heart that matters in the land I choose to call my own, undidactic as the element of choice may be and looming large beyond reasonable or ludicrous comprehension, rational or irrational.
Poverty is a bane. Not all men and women are born equal among the unequals. A battle we need to fight and which doesn’t remain embedded in the mind. A dream about equality, respect for women in rural and urban, where discrimination would be reduced to just a word, education for everyone, fighting this battle of malnutrition, proper hospital bed for every child. India belongs to all its citizens.
Everyday, the headlines sprang and sends us into depression reading about women being raped or facing sexual assault. It’s not what our ancestors wished for when they fought for independence, wrote the constitution, gave their lives for democratic, tolerance and human rights values, or dignity for every living but also non-living entities. We live in a restless and polarized politics era. I wish for the country to move beyond it and no child shall be seen as a Dalit or Brahmin. We don’t need to be a political martyr but the basic right to breathe free air where no child, man or women are deprived about what rightfully belongs to them.
History taught us how people have been driven outside their homes and leaving all belongings, crossing seas and oceans to a new land. The scars remain forever and we may choose to obliterate our identity but the irony remains that it never leaves us but come in unexpected ways to haunt. Let’s understand what India represents for zillions, the rich civilization and literature beyond the compass of veiled judgment that has no place if we choose to.
India resides in us, in me and you. You may not reside on the map but it scythes its way to pierce the heart. After all, mother carries a child in the womb for nine months, enduring suffering. How can child discard the chord binding the soul. You may be or not conceived by Mother India but blood transgresses generations, binding hearts and souls scattered over the earth in making you and me alive.
I may not be a Karmayogi. My Karmabhoomi is the country who made me who I am, the vast land of Sufism, Hindi music, traditional dance form, Bharat Natyam, arts, rich saints and bards, where language is learned by expressions, coupled with shaping my values, unfettered in my voice to protest injustice and take small steps so that difference of opinions are not only tolerated but prevails.
This is my India, the land of scholars and diversity. Our Independance is a day to reflect on our values, take pride in a democracy constantly moving and having the spine to correct the wrongs to let the world know we are One. This festive season, read the book, The Idea of India by Sunil Khilnani, one of the best gift to yourself in understanding and learning about the country.
Happy Independence Day