Thursday, August 14, 2008

Independence, just another day

While I don't like Nehru, his speech "Tryst with destiny" is the permanent remnant of our historic event. The world was not sleeping, New York was striking noon, China was wide awake... We have turned out to be brave in parts and the biggest cowards in others. We sit waiting for the 61st Independence Day to arrive, but what have we done for our country? Our nationalist spirit is apathetic. Lets juxtapose this speech with the horrors of partition that followed. Lets read the underlined optimism of this speech in the light of the monsters that we have become- bombings, communal riots in Bombay, Delhi and Gujarat. Lets read in the light of the sheer inertia with which we lead our lives. Lets hope we don't end up like China, where the growth of the cities has clouded the poverty of the villages and the economic disparity between the two is so much more than in India. Lets not leave the "economic shining" to the cities and take our respective successes to the interiors.


Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.

At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?

That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.

And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for any one of them to imagine that it can live apart Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this One World that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.

We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell. The appointed day has come-the day appointed by destiny-and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent. The past clings on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken. Yet the turning-point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.

It is a fateful moment for us in India, A new star rises, the star of freedom in the East, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materializes. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed! We rejoice in that freedom.

The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.

We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be. We are citizens of a great country on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.

To the nations and peoples of the world send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy. And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage and we bind ourselves afresh to her service. Jai Hind.

Wishing you a so called HAPPY Independence Day. JAI HIND!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blood and tranquility

The hustling bustling city was once a desert where oasis’ were bloody potholes and in the trees resided, the banshees of the dead. She grew up there while her mother toiled for her second masters degree, the toughest of its kind. The city where she saw and smelt blood for the first time. The stench of death hung over the entire city and still lingers in those which are painful memories. The winters were harsh and the summers melted the city.

In the winters, every evening, after she and her brother played near the fireplace, after they had worn out, they sat discussing their day. It was amazing how much conversation the two little children indulged in, given that that was two decades ago, with little exposure to tv and none to cable tv. Sometimes, when her brother felt too cold, she wrapped him up in her mittens and blanket and then made her first pet fall asleep on her knees. There was always the teetering background noise of blasts and bullets, but were safely ensconced in their little haven which was well protected and guarded. That was the city of mouth watering food, the Golden Temple, the hatti ka kulfi’s and the Wagah Border.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Renewed passion

She had moved seas away, and her amiable biba had moved worlds away. As much as she tried to bury her memories and let the past live in the winding hands of the chiming clock, she couldn’t cut the umbilical cord. She yearned to meet people she knew from childhood, the people who had the cords of their lives intertwined with hers, people with fragments with the same blood.

The old teak desk had travelled long and far with her. The steaming kahwa in her hands and the splashing rain on the windows activated a long lost passion- to write. The old scrappy notebook was dug out and she sat pouring her imagination on the paper and writing each word like an artist, weaving and curving the soul of the letters as she went…

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The squirrel, the hole and the cake

It couldn’t have been denied to her.. the sweet innocent girl that she had been, for the longest time, undemanding and yielding. It was after all, only a simple slice of chocolate cake. She ran out in the garden, her soft curls flying back, and her pink frilly frock doing its own little ballet. She tripped on a rock and fell into the dug up hole. The hole was never visible to her before, but now she could see for what it really was- an escape. A beautiful strawberry bush grew in the corner and the little one went over and plucked a few. Suddenly, magically, of course, a squirrel appeared in the corner. There was nothing unusual about the squirrel, except that it was wearing an apron! A tiny squirrel apron. The little one waved a hello to the strangely civilized squirrel. It was returned by a shock and a yelp for help and the animal scampered out of the hole.

To this day she wonders if it was a figment of her overactive and over-magical imagination or was it, eerily, real?