15 August : Independence Day, today, to me means a world of opportunities, options waiting to be explored and dreams to be actualized… Some common dreams shared by our ancestors and some personal individual dreams…the foundations for both were laid by centuries of effort, which we celebrate today.
One such common dream, which can be summarized in Rabindranath Tagore’s words…“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action–
Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake…”
A few hours more than 60 years ago, India became a democracy; India got the right to produce its own goods, make its own laws – the kind of freedom which we now take for granted. I am not questioning patriotic zeal here, for most of us here; Independence Day is just another holiday. We are probably grateful for the holiday, not the occasion. And as patriotic as we may claim to be, that freedom is just some vague idea, some vague names and dates and places, some vague struggles, some vague grainy black-and-white pictures straight out of school history textbooks. Things have changed radically since; things have improved by leaps and bounds.
What does independence mean to me? Independence to me is about making my own choices, my own decisions, fending for myself and not being dependent on anyone for my monetary or materialistic needs. Every year, we grow older, and with age, we do get more freedom. Here, I lift a line straight out of Spiderman, modify it to my convenience and say “With great freedom, comes great responsibility”. The responsibility here means to consider “how my decisions would affect others”. With family being as strong an institution it is, I will have to always consult my family in all the major decisions of my life – today, my parents… and tomorrow, my husband and children too. With great responsibility also comes this overwhelming burden of having to choose what is right and what is wrong, which we all would rather share with someone. But absolute freedom to me would be the freedom to ASK for someone’s assistance or advice and not have their opinions thrust on me. This is what independence means to me.
And for the kind of freedom I was born with, that I enjoy today and take so much for granted, but for which so much blood was shed, I salute my Motherland and all those responsible for giving me this kind of freedom. As much as I realize I can never feel the way they felt, I am grateful for this legacy they have handed down.