My grandmother arrived in Madikeri in 1946, or thereabouts, as a young teen bride. From responsibility free days playing with her younger sister to managing in-laws in a joint family, not to say the complete climate change from the coast to the hills, it must have been tough. But then women then were accustomed to having their lives whipped out into a whirlpool without their knowledge, much less consent. She must have adjusted well, or so I gather from her stories from back then.
In 1947, she had gone back to her maternal uncle’s to deliver her first child. My grandfather, a freedom fighter who went to jail for the cause (I am so proud of this), had sent her a couple of miniature silk flags, with a letter, explaining that
was free. I pestered her to show me those, many decades later, but she told me they were lost somewhere in the midst of raising six children of her own, dozens of others of her sisters-in-law, feeding countless people everyday and moving from a joint family complex to a house of their own. India
Now that I write this, I remember her telling me about an old newspaper item that mentioned my grandfather’s and his comrades’ return from Vellore jail.
But of course I was reminded of all this because today is I-Day. I am so proud of this country, because despite all the craziness that makes up a day here, it still, as a whole, works. We are modern, but in most ways, we live like we have for thousands of years. There isn’t new I can contribute to raving about how great my country is, but like a particularly naughty child or a favourite friend or your own maverick behaviour, you remain indulgent towards its ironies.
This past week, I had many an opportunity to talk about my country with some new Dutch friends, two very staunch fans of
. Looking through their eyes, Western eyes that saw way beyond the grim and the slumdog angles (as if that is the only thing here), I saw an India I usually glaze over, the colours, the facilities, a lot more. I have those stories coming up the rest of this week. Watch this space. India
This morning, amidst the usual commotion on the streets, I heard some band playing and came out to see that there were a bunch of school kids marching, in white kurtas and big flags. A staple Independence Day affair everywhere. But then, I began to wonder, we of the liberalized generation of excesses and the ones after us, we don’t have much to root for now, do we? Idealistically, morally, there isn’t much to inspire, me thinks.
Sure there was Rang de Basanti and there is Anna Hazare and the rest of his clan. But forgive me for speaking my mind, I don’t subscribe to the fact that ‘liking’ and anti-corruption page on Facebook or attending candle-light events online amounts to action. I ‘liked’ a page once, for a few days but was bombarded with too many posts and notifications. So I promptly un-liked it. That doesn’t mean I am for corruption, thank you very much.
I don’t see a full on revolution happening, though it would be really, really nice to have something that inspired, something that you chose to support as a cause at the cost of time, personal life, money, that foreign job. But I suppose everyone is too busy trying to land a cushier job to finance that city flat, countryside holidays and frequent jaunts abroad. It is easier, and way cheaper, to click a few buttons online.
Oh, we are an independent country, still. Cheers to that now.