Last night I was chatting with a friend when the clock struck 12 and the day changed. Like a true patriot, and a funny person, she broke our conversation and wished me a Happy Independence Day using a WhatsApp sticker. 😁
That got me wondering, what does the Independence Day mean to me now, or to someone else, anyone? It’s a supposed special day, and what am I supposed to feel or do to make it special? I really didn’t understand, I wished her back and we continued our otherwise inconsequential chat. Obviously, I didn’t voice out my thoughts that moment, but then I looked to my memories to give me an answer. What is an Independence Day now and how did we make it special, other years? I wondered, shall I get up early to watch a parade, but that’s 26th Jan, not 15th August… I didn’t get an answer. I seem to have forgotten so much, living the fast life that I have been. However, things came back to me when I heard the hullabaloo in my house and in my colony around 9–9.30am, while I was trying hard to keep sleeping. Some time later I got up finally, quite some time later 😅, and then came the time to check my messages for the Independence Day wishes and to return the same. While I was searching for an appropriate GIF to send, I saw one with a kite, some more things tapped my memory now, and I realised what Independence day was like many years ago.
We all know what the Independence Day stands for, but here’s what it meant for me.
Yes, kite-flying was the one thing that we woke up early on 15th August for, as children. Not so much kite-flying, as kite-running! My sister and I were little kite-runners, backed by our Masies (maternal aunts), and challenged by our Mama (maternal uncle). Our Mama was the person who used to fly kites, along with his friends, us two, as little troublemakers who lacked skill were allowed only the opportunity to run after and win the cut kites that would be falling here and there. We would run from chhat (rooftop) to the backside where an old underground tank existed, to the garden, to the trees, to the streets within the colony, we were agile little runners! Our Mama being a young man in his late teens/early twenties then, loved flying kites and having a hoard after Independence Day, and we wanted to have a hoard of our own as well! I remember he’d nicely keep away all the kites, stacked one on top of the other inside the dewan he otherwise used to sleep on. And that was the treasure that the independence day had won him, and us… perhaps a symbol of the treasure won many years ago, a country to call our own.
I remember little details like learning how to make a kite crisp, how to put the thread, the manjha through it, running far faaar away from Mama trying to hoist the kite before it took flight. Kites were so important, culturally, that we were even taught how to make one in a workshop in school! Does anyone remember that? I’m pretty sure my school wasn’t the only one that arranged for such a workshop.
Flying kites; learning how to roll and let loose the majha from the charkhi, learning to hoist the kite, pulling the majha to keep the kite stable, and inadvertently getting that insanely troublesome manjha cut (10x more pinching than a paper-cut)… and finally running kites… what a crazy high! That’s what Independence Day was made of, and that’s what it meant to me back then.
I guess being at home for the past two Independence Days has made me forget about all this. While I write this, my sister says people outside are excitedly flying kites, sadly her office allows no lockdown or weekends 😅 so she gets a taste of what the Independence Day looks like still. I guess I’m just waiting for a miracle, for the corona scare to end, and to feel whole again. Independent again, perhaps…
Happy Independence Day! 🇮🇳🪁