Happy Independence Day, India! I am, ME, because of you! You gave me a name and an identity! No matter, where I live in this world, I can never forget my roots. Independence day brings tons of memories of the past, as kids we always participated in cultural programs and waited for sweets (laddoos) at the end. It was a National holiday but we always went to school for flag hoisting and cultural programs. I loved celebrating it, always!
The story from Grade 12 is in front of my eyes today as I am remembering 15th August. Monsoon in India, always brought heavy rains, streets filled with water. Our school started on the 1st of July and I never carried an umbrella or intentionally hid it in my bag so I could get drenched. July and August months in India are humid, especially in my place, Dehradun. So getting wet felt so good, we didn’t care if our uniforms looked bad or shoes got soaked. We used to get in the classroom and remove our shoes to dry and sit under the fan to dry our dresses. The other kids were not all the same, they were very particular about covering their bags and keeping umbrellas or raincoats in their bags every day. I made sure my books were safe in the bag but hardly covered myself in a raincoat or umbrella. Even when I was driving a bike, I always got drenched in water. After reaching home, my mother would tell us to head straight to the washroom, remove all the clothes, take shower and then will bring us a hot cup of ginger tea so we could be warm.
So, coming back to Independence day in Grade 12, it was my last year of school and my last chance to attend a school function. I was never greedy for the sweets but enjoyed watching the program. That day on August 15, I was burning with 104 F fever, I was weak and on medication. But I wanted to go to school and had a big fight with my mother. She didn’t want to leave in that condition, my school was far and we used to walk. But I was adamant, I got ready in my school uniform and made it to school. We sang the National Anthem, watched the program, received the sweets, and then I happened to vomit. But I didn’t care about myself, I was very enthusiastic, I had to do it. It felt like the last chance to me. Now, I feel so silly but still glad I did it.
Years passed and I am glad to be living in Canada which gave me another home. A home with the freedom of speech and festivities. We organized Independence day events in the town, which the Councillors and Mayor all attended. It has been a gap for a few years and hoping we can start organizing again. Today, we attended a flag hoisting ceremony in the Town of Milton today and reminisced the time in India, I still get goosebumps and tears in my eyes whenever I listen to the patriotic songs. I guess, India will live in me and within me until the day I die.
And Dhoni just announced retirement from Indian Cricket this morning, not good news but he chose what he had to. You will be missed Dhoni! Happy Independence day to my fellow Indians living in India or abroad!