For a long time Independence Day meant only one thing for me. Holiday!
I remember that my grandfather was not happy with this attitude. So he used to give us long lectures about how our martyrs sacrificed everything to win us our freedom and how we should be honouring them instead.
So to please him, we would get up early in the morning and go to the neighbouring park where the local politician would give long lectures about what his party and he himself in particular was doing for his nation. And we used to fidget around impatiently and wait for the distribution of chocolates.
Back at home we would show our grandfather the empty chocolate wrapper and tell him that we went for the flag hoisting. And then he would put the TV on and we would all watch the parade while he would make us salute the flag.
We would salute for a good fifteen minutes and then wait for him to dismiss us. With a solemn face we would file out of the room and take up Discovery of India to read with a Mills and Boons hidden in the spine of the book.
When I started working for a website, I discovered that Independence Day meant making special pages for events, movies, articles and discussion. While I was in charge of the events, I would scout through countless Indian Association websites in US to collate them. I had become a cynic by then. Independence Day didn’t mean a holiday but just a page for which we had to strive to get as many page views as possible.
A couple of years passed before I could even understand what my grandfather had wanted us to experience. He was a young man when India won its independence. He saw the exultant passion of many young men who courted arrest and punishment just for holding a flag. He saw the single-minded focus of oppressed people trying to break free from a selfish regime. To him Independence Day was the day when people became really happy with a promise of dream that could have come true.
And after all these years, I have come to realize that getting independent was just the beginning of a dream; a dream towards progress and economic success. Countless pens have written about how badly we have progressed towards this dream but as an eternal optimist I still have hopes…
So Happy Independence Day to one and all!