By Durga Roy:
Yesterday was 2nd October- a date which is registered in the minds of Indians as a ‘chhutti’. Aaloo paanthas wait at the table and how can one forget the newspaper. Sipping coffee in our fancy mugs, we flip through the newspaper. By the time we are done reading, we switch to TV and the anthem ‘Jaago Re‘ stirs our patriotic impulses. The sudden urge to do something puts an impetus upon us to switch to a news channel which plans to invoke the otherwise slumbering ghosts of our colonial past.
I am no different. I read a blog post by my friend out of my loyalty to her. As I sat reading, I realized that I had absolutely forgotten to ‘do my bit‘. I had fully enjoyed my chhutti and now, it was coming to an end. I realized that I had forgotten to post a status, send a message, shed a tear and well, bow down to the ‘forgotten hero‘.
My friend stirred me to reality and now, I am forced to think- how important are these ‘national’ holidays? What is so ‘National’ about these holidays? Gandhi-giri? Ha. The word, in my opinion, has been highly abused by the ‘nation’ after Munna Bhai rendered it cool enough to be used in our everyday lingo. How much of Gandhi do we need today when almost everything has been reduced to a style statement by the ‘national force’? Anna came as a whirlwind and his caps became a rage if one wanted to show that he was being patriotic. ‘Main Anna hoon’. Where did it all go? Well, there was a storm and then those caps flew away into wardrobes to be registered as a ‘streak of revolution’ which would later become the grand narratives characteristically marked by ‘hum apne zamane mein…’.
How can one forget the ‘Anti Gandhi’ bandwagon which celebrates Lal Bahadur Shastri’s birthday instead. They replace Gandhi in already circulated messages, post a status message and bang! wear their dislike for Gandhi on their sleeves. They are a different stream of patriotic which refuses to understand Shastri Ji and his philosophy and go on eulogizing him as the ‘true son of the Nation‘.
Stuck between the two groups of patriots, I am lost. What choice do I have? As a dislocated twenty first century Indian, I feel it suffocating to be told what to do on a day which is commemorated as a ‘National Holiday’. How grateful are we to an entire generation of freedom fighters if we take into consideration the fact that we show our respect by celebrating birthdays? Nobody tells me that Irom SharmilaÂ is still fighting for ‘freedom’. Nobody celebrates her birthday. Nobody celebrates the fact that each of us is actually struggling to break free from one thing or the other.
I offer to take up this day as the day when the mob chooses to be silent and polite enough to sit back in their homes and allow their mothers, sisters and servants to serve them with their favourite lunch. I would like to include it as a day when I can choose to roam around in the campus without the fear of being asked to support some or the other political party in their fight against injustice. I choose to take it just as a Holiday- a day when the average Indian is thankful to the mob for allowing him to sit back and enjoy the drama of The Great Indian Democracy.
At the end of the day, I am glad that I have finally done my bit and written something for the occasion. Oh and yes, Jai Hind.