Saturday, May 16, 2009


India was born on August 15, 1947. She spent her first couple of decades like a happy child, under the watchful eye of those who had struggled to give birth to it. Innocent and clean, India glowed like a bright new star born here on Earth, with all the promise of a newborn. She was delicate and was raised in a protective environment, safe from the dirt and hypocrisy of the world outside. Her days were spent diving into the invisible silent depths of the Saraswati where she first discovered her ancient foundations, and by night she listened to stories about herself, who she was, where she came from, why she was beautiful...and different.

Then one by one her guides and protectors, those who had fought for her existence, grew old and and went to God. She was too young to realise what that really meant for her. All she knew was that she was suddenly on her own, an impressionable teenager in a bewildering world of men and clever words. In this glittering new world that her parents had shielded her from, she tried everything - Coca Cola, Hollywood, fast cars, cigarettes, and shiny skin. She wore make-up not suited to her brown skin, and sometimes, when she was hanging out with her cool new friends, she felt ugly.

She entered her twenties in a haze of confusion. Nothing felt right. She felt angry, she felt abandoned, she felt lost. She could barely remember her early years when she used to feel safe, when people had handled her with care and affection. Everyone since then had lied to her. She was afraid of the people who were in her life now. They had pulled her into a helpless pattern of destruction, but they claimed to be her friends, her leaders. She wanted to run away where? Why was no one thinking about her benefit? What had happened to all the promises? All the good people had left her, and all she was left with was war, death, hatred - she didn't know who she was anymore. All this internal fighting, she couldn't take it. She fled.

She fled to the last place she had been happy. She scattered herself and hid in the Sunderbans, in the Brahmaputra, in the Himalayas, in the echoes of the Deccan. Her true friends came looking for her. They called out her name but she didn't return their calls. The sky was silent and still. The birds and the beasts chose not to speak to man anymore. Her true friends wept, they thought they had lost her for good. India was nowhere to be found.

The years went by.

Then some people thought they heard an anklet tinkling in the monsoon wind. Some farmers said a strange new flavour had seeped into their crops. Old women thought they'd seen an unknown girl's face reflecting back at them from the rivers. There were reported sightings of an unknown woman running with the tigers and deer in the jungles, but no one could ever talk to her because she seemed to become one with the trees the instant you looked at her long enough. All anyone ever heard was a laugh that sounded like rustling Gulmohar leaves and lazy cowbells at night. All the elements seemed to conspire together to blow dust into the senses of men so that no one was ever sure of what they saw or heard.

In the meanwhile, young people took to telling each other stories they'd heard about the child-woman called India. Children in the city heard about her on their television sets, while their rural cousins learned the legend crouched around their elders late at night. "Bring her back", they'd weep. A sandstorm overheard their laments, and whispered their dreams to India when she was asleep. When she awoke, she realised that she was not a child anymore, and that the time had come to reclaim her kingdom. With the air of the crop fields in her lungs and the cries of her children in her ears, at the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world slept, India awoke to light and freedom.

Where The Mind is Without Fear
Rabindranath Tagore

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 narrow 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 thoughta nd action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

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