The sun rises high, and the new day dawns.
This day is the 62nd Independence Day of the great nation called India.And I am proud of it.
But somehow,the pure joy and thrill that I used to experience during Republic Days and Independence Day isn't here this time.Why? Have I ceased to be Indian? No,I still love my country loads,and would die unshuddering for it if the need came.Then why this sudden indifference?
Nowadays,nothing touches me.Friendship Days,Valentine Days,New Year's Day,even my Birthday,or any festivals.They are,sadly,just numbers,and I look at them with grim eyes and just think of them as holidays.Nothing more.Does that mean I am not patriotic or human enough?
Well I don't know.But what I do know that Indians are pretty bad at knowing the geography/history/civics of their own country.
"Is Telugu spoken in Tamil Nadu?"
"Is Haryana in India?"
"Is the North-East really habitable?"
"Do the people in the North really eat only Burgers and Pizzas?"
"Do the people in the South always eat Idli and Dosa?"
Many people...or rather most people have come to terms with these questions and have disregarded them as the other's ignorance.But...yours truly does get hurt!
My life history goes like this: First 10 years of my life spent in Mathura (U.P),next 6 years in Guwahati (Assam),and 2 years in Panipat (Haryana),and 1 year (3 more to go!)in Chennai(Tamilnadu).
I would like to mention here that although many would be cynical that I have so openly told about my so-called-life-history,but seriously,no one can trace me to my place with those vague knowledge I have provided :P
I am originally from Tamil Nadu.I am proud of it.You can see me boiling with rage when someone says anything wrong about my place.I fight endlessly when someone says that Telugu is the language spoken in Tamil Nadu.I always brag about the great personalities of the state and tell tall stories about them as if I have literally lived in their neighbourhood.I always tell them about the difference in beliefs of the Southies and Northies.That should make me a good Tamilian,I guess.
But its not so.I hate it even more when people ask me "Oh God! How have you lived in the North-East this long? Isn't it dangerous?" And I feel like saying "Sure its dangerous.Its dangerous because nice people live there and you may fall in love with them.Nice scenaries are there and you may never want to lose sight of them."
I want to ask them "What do you know about the North-East?".
And even more than that...I hate it now when I hear someone say "I hate the Northies.They just don't have any culture".What culture are you talking about? The culture that permits you to joyfully stop the education of women so that the men are favoured? The culture that crushes the imaginative minds of young children and makes them all robotic and inhuman?
When you don't know about the Bhajans,Keertans,Chaar Dhaams,Padyaatras,the sacredness of Ganges,the purity of faith,the simplicity of prayer without being asked for the gothras and nakshatras,the feeling of festivity which is not restricted to one section of one sect of one faith one religion,then you don't know anything.
When you don't know about the variety of dishes prepared,all from different ingredients,all for a single festival,then you don't know what appetite is.
When you don't understand the sanctity of the three Oceans meeting,the fierce rage of a widow burning a town,the sacredness of a powerfull Lord...you know nothing.
Sometimes,I feel angry at my life.I wish I would have stayed at one place..and then I would have got that sense of belonging.Knowing a place fully is better that knowing many places in tidbits I believe.
I feel disillusioned at times.This,Chennai,is my native place so to say,But I don't feel I belong.Sometimes I have the urge to run back where my home is.But..run from what?Earlier,at times such as this,I used to comfort myself...thinking ha! I am a complete Indian then.But now,it takes all my efforts to convince my Head office that my claim may be true.
I guess in the end a person does return to his or her roots.Have I? Where is it that my heart feels secure?
Where do I belong?
"Ae Masakalli Masakalli,Ud Matakalli Matakalli"...a familiar hindi song! I look around to see a small girl singing this song as she passes me by.Perhaps,its not really that bad a condition.
India is,though slowly,indeed growing up.