Just last night, I was watching the iconic Yash Chopra classic, “Deewar”. In one scene, ‘the bachha who becomes Bachchan’ declines entering the temple. His mother (mother of all mothers, Nirupa Roy), warns him that if he doesn’t go inside the temple, she would never talk to him and would also never give him food. It was an intriguing scene. A mother was blackmailing her child to make him follow her faith. Then, with a halo behind his head, the priest appeared and told Nirupa Roy,
“Sister, don’t force him to come into the temple because worship is done not with force but with faith.”
Other than the obvious statement made by the priest, by enforcing her ways of worship on her son, the mother here is also questioning his own ways of worship and at the same time neglecting his love for her. In contrast, the child comes with his mother, every day to the temple doors and waits for her at the stairs. This is his way of showing love and respect towards his mother despite not believing in her ways of worship. This dynamic is important to understand. Every mother loves her child and every child loves their mother. It is a bond that is beyond reason or explanation and doesn’t require a facebook update (unlike modern day ‘relationships’). But of course, not everyone is ‘the ideal child’ who wakes up early and touches their parents’ feet first thing in the morning. At least, I have not seen such children outside the Rajshri movies. The ‘real’ people also love their parents but maybe sans the shenanigans. Some buy gifts for them, some live with them throughout their lives while others feel that only one call a day is enough love shown. The magnitude varies but I don’t think it can be non-existent.
Most human beings also share this bond of unconditional compassion towards their motherland. It brings a glitter to my eyes every time I am asked to talk about my hometown. It also pains me at the same time when someone mocks my country for its policy or politics. It is something that can’t be taken away from any individual and must not be questioned.
One can always dislike the rulers, the policy makers, the politics or the judiciary, but they might not dislike or disown the country they call their own. In other words, each one of us is a patriot. It is just a matter of choice hence, how one shows their compassion towards their country. One doesn’t have to be an IAS officer, a soldier or a sportsperson to prove their loyalty towards the nation.
The extent of freedom for its people to make this choice is what makes a country truly great. Also, the choice of deciding their own rights and wrongs, making opinions, liking or disliking a person or a belief, practising different ways of worship, food, orientation; basically, the way one decides to live his or her life is completely up to a person and it should be.
It is like any relationship in this world. Parents who allow their children to choose their own careers are deemed as ‘cool’. A wife is deemed ‘compatible’ when she doesn’t object her husband’s love for chicken despite being a vegan herself. A husband earns his share of respect when he doesn’t force himself on his wife to consummate their marriage. These are small things. Things that give a person their sense of freedom. This is not as complicated as it sounds. One needs space and respect in a relationship to give back the same. When something is forced on a person, they start to care less about the other person and that is where bitterness is born. It simply makes the other party less likeable.
Whether one wants to worship a cow or eat it must not be a matter of debate but rather a matter of choice. Whether one remembers the national anthem correctly should not be a parameter of patriotism. If one can’t speak Hindi, they should not be asked to exile the country.
We all do stand whenever our national anthem is played. I have personally never seen any Indian to have disrespected our national anthem. But now that it has been mandated, I fear that a few people would stay seated just to show their protest and prove their ‘freedom’. The national anthem and hence the country would be disrespected, on purpose. The country would be misunderstood by the people. The national anthem would be mocked by the people. As Arundhati Roy writes in “God Of Small Things”:
“That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”
The people would still love their country, but a little less.