Independence day was spent at an alien office this year for a change. It was odd, not having a holiday since I am not in India. For me, Independence day has meant roaming around the deserted streets of Delhi, along with psycho
, both of us in our Khaadi kurtas, enjoying the extended time and the extended space, that’s so rare to come by in our daily rat race. It was unanimously decided this year that we (my colleagues and I) would all go to the Indian embassy here in Finland
(where a lot of other desis were getting together). The flag hoisting ceremony was to start at 9:30am. The distance between my place and the embassy, made me cringe at the thought of getting up ultra early. But then soon, (if I may say), ‘patriotism’ took over and I ignored my body’s pleas the next morning to let it make up for the accumulated sleep deficit. I got ready much ahead of time and set out with a lot of buffer. As luck would have it, I encountered a traffic jam (the first I encountered here so far) and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I reached the venue at 10:15am. With the hoisting over, the national anthem already sung, the crowds dispersed … all that was left was the Indian flag, fluttering slowly, looking quite forlorn. Then I noticed something quite exquisite. The blood red and silky looking fresh petals of rose, were all around me on the street and on the pavement. Somehow it all looked so wrong. What was that *royal* flower doing down there on the street? It didn’t deserve getting trampled by mere passersby. And then came a moment when one answers one’s own questions. The following lines suddenly fluttered in my mind from nowhere.
Mujhe tod lena ban-mali,
uss path par dena tum phenk
Matra-bhoomi par sheesh chadhane,
jis path jayen veer anek.
Pluck me, O keeper of the garden,
And onto that path throw
To lay their lives for the motherland
On which several heroes go
– from ‘Pushp Kee Abhilasha’ (A flower’s wish) by Pt. Makhanlal Chaturvedi
And then I realised, I was the one who was diminishing their true worth, not the mere pasersby.