Republic Day required reading
When I was young, Republic Day in India of course meant a holiday (more so in Calcutta where 23rd January is an official holiday too and one would usually get an extended break) and quite a bit of patriotic fervour and the goose-bumpy feeling of the idealist ‘Indianness’ generated by watching the Parade on Raj Chowk on the TV. But then as one grows up, life happens and cynicism increases – you get into painful debates about regionalism, ethnicity, patriotism, the whole meaning of being an Indian etc.
And then, you read something that simply stops all the debates and makes you sit up and understand. The GreatBong – one of the best out there in the blogosphere (note that I do not limit myself to the ‘Indian’ blogosphere), who usually dabbles in hilariously sarcastic digs at establishments (particularly Bollywood), gives us one straight from the heart. Written from a letter that his mother wrote about a visit to the infamous Cellular Jail in the Andamans, what makes it emotionally stirring is her direct personal attachment with the place. A place where her father-in-law was jailed for four years. With all the shrill rhetoric about freedom that you hear in the USA, this post is a poignant reminder of what a lot of people suffered so we Indians could have that freedom of choice we enjoy today. Here is an excerpt:
But no there was something else which is even more powerful—a light ethereal wondrous presence that dispels the darkness of suffering.
Hope. The hope that sustained these men (your grandfather among them) despite floggings, torture and subhuman treatment. The hope that one day things would be different, the hope that their sons and daughters would grow up in a land free from foreign oppression. And as your father stared into the dark abyss of a cell reaching out for a part of your grandfather forever lost in these walls, I could not help thinking that somehow your father’s presence here, as a free man and as a professor of a premier institute of higher education of a proud resurgent India, is a vindication of the sacrifices your grandfather and his fellow prisoners made.
(I know I am a bit over the top here and this one article does not quell all debates – but lets just keep those for another day).
(Photo from BBC)
PS – Don’t get taken aback by the graphics on GreatBong’s blog – remember, his usual trade is lampooning (among others) Bollywood, politicians, windbags of all varieties.