By Tanaya Singh:Â
It was just 9:00 A.M. and school was over, already. As most of the students joined a cricket match organised on the school grounds, Ravi headed back home. It was chilly in his hometown. 26th January was here, but no sign of relief from the nose reddening winds. Topi wale Chacha stopped him at the gate, pinched his cheek painted in tricolour and presented a small cloth flag in a tiny stick. He smiled and that pink skinned cheek reddened even more.
They had been practicing since a month at school. The whole day, all participating kids were made to sit in the ground, and wait for their turn to practice for a 60 minute act that each class had to present before the principle and the chief guest on Republic Day. Nobody asked the 10-year-old Ravi if he wanted to be on that ground, dressed as the Indian flag while many girls wearing red and white saris danced around him. He just had to be there, no questions asked, no answers given. A saffron coloured cap, a white kurta, green pants, and the “cutest boy in school” was ready with a smile. But all his teachers forgot the wind. It was a day to be celebrated, but it was still cold, wasn’t it?
They said something important happened today. A big book called the “cons-ti-tution” was completed which has all the rules to run India. “Like the rules of traffic lights maybe”, thought Ravi, “but then, why did Lathi Chacha let those large cars drive past him even when the light was red?”Â
This day was special to him for two reasons. There was a song named “Vande Mataram” which was played on TV repeatedly last year on this day. What did they sing after and before “Vande Mataram“, Ravi was not sure. But he still loved the song. Â And then, there was a tricolour kite his father bought a week ago, and told him to play with it on Republic Day. That was why he had been waiting for 26th January.
Last evening, every ounce of patience, which had allowed the mighty kite to remain on the top most shelf of Amma’s cupboard, was lost. The old teak box was taken out from under the bed, kept on a chair and mounted on with tiny feet. And just like that, in a minute or two, Ravi was out with his most prized possession, in the backyard, by the Gulmohar, flying the tricolour as high as the wind would take it. His heart flew with that sharp string and the flutter made the most amazing sound. The wind was no more that chilly monster but a friend to spend the evening with, until it decided that it was tired and made the kite turn around suddenly and left Ravi alone as he watched the tricolour jerk and settle on the dry Gulmohar branches.
“I had told you not today, now it’s dark, bring it back tomorrow”, Amma had said. Nobody would help him dismount his kite. Even guard chacha was busy with a small fire in his cottage. So tomorrow it is.
But “that” tomorrow turned out to be busier for everyone. He was woken up at six. Are we supposed to go to school in the dark on the Big book’s birthday? Ravi was sleepy in the ground at eight. He had been the Indian flag and had seen the girls’ dance around him almost a hundred times. It was over soon. He wanted to be home quickly, wear something to warm him up and go back to the Gulmohar. No, he did not want the orange laddoo, nor that apple, he just wanted his kite back. Baba was already in the car when he reached and Amma said she has his jacket, and made him sit on the backseat. No questions asked, no answers given.
Soon they reached Baba’s office grounds. It was crowded, and people were standing and singing “Jan Gann Mann” by the time they reached. Here, he saw other kids becoming flags and other girls dancing. Many uncles said many things, Ravi kept watching the tricolour balloons in the far corner of the field. If only he had his kite, it would have been lot more fun flying it in this open space. Once more, he did not want the orange laddoo, or the white sweet Amma was stuffing his mouth with. He only wanted his kite.
At 5:00 pm Ravi saw his kite suddenly jerk and settle on the dry Gulmohar branches. He woke up with a jerk too. And there, from his window, Ravi saw the tricolour still perched on top of his favourite tree. It was dark. The day was over. The television was no longer playing “Vande Mataram”, Amma was watching some movie and it was too dark to fly his kite.
He liked only two things about the day, and if those were the only things he didn’t get, what was there to celebrate?
Happy Republic Day[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]If you really want to celebrate Republic Day today, find a reason for it. Find something that you really want. Something that really makes the day special for you. After all, its a holiday.Something that makes you feel connected to the land will work. Even if its a song, its worth a celebration. I leaveÂ up toÂ the reader to learn something, anything or nothing from Ravi[/box]