Happy In-dependence Day!!!

A beloved friend sent me a Happy Independence Day Greeting this morning.
I did not expect it at all from him and sent him a friendly though slightly irreverent & mildly uneasy Haha in return.

Truth be told, August 15th has never been an occasion of eliciting any particularly special elation in me any year. Exception may have been in primary school when we were all given toffees at the end of flag hoisting for which we eagerly awaited our turn.

Perhaps this was partly because  I came from a particularly Nationalistic school, the Kendriya Vidyalaya with a more than generous daily dose of patriotism. (In fact I still recall a rather cheery marching tune kind of song that extolled a development programme mooted by the party then in power at the center that we innocent 2nd graders trilled after our Music teacher. Looking back, recalling her expression of fatigue and boredom, I don’t think she had a clue either as to what was going on.) The fact that my school branch was situated in a defense zone underlined this even further.

As I grew up ,my places of higher study required long journeys by train northwards in the pre Konkan railways days. So I often had Jawans traveling in my compartments.

In contrast with my nattier schoolmates who were officer’s children and made it to premier institutions like the NDA, these were mostly village school products with only dust road connectivity 8th or 10th graders who enlisted in the army more out of necessity than any innate nationalistic compulsion. All without exception, homesick, romantic youngsters with their ears glued to their tiny transistor sets in the pre-mobile phone era, checking eagerly if they can tune into their regional language stations.
These are the glorified foot soldiers – the sort who fill body bags, get killed in distraction sniping games across the border,whose ‘sacrifices’ are extolled the same way certain kind of self martyring mothers are held up to be emulated as paragons of virtue within patriarchal families.

This I think could one of the many contributory reasons for my tepid feelings regarding Aug15th…

I’m certain it also has to do with the fact how, somewhere along the way, it dawned on me that Independence is not necessarily Freedom. 

“Independence” …I mutter the word slowly to myself. Tasting it very slowly with my tongue and lips as if I was encountering it for the very first time.

Abrogation of article 370, a besieged valley, a fluttering flag raised without choice over tears, unaddressed rage and resisting heads& hearts… Across histories and cultures, playing the scene with small variations, over and over and over … All these flash in quick succession across the movie screen- inner eye. 

These aren’t celebrations ever but their dark doppelgangers. Exercises of unbridled power. These events are also opportunities to cast a falcon’s surveilling 360 degrees eye to spot who are the ones not toeing the line.

Like those glances mingling trepidation, doubt and sometimes mildly jingoistic puff-ups in the cinema hall directed at those who are contemplating keeping their backsides ensconced in their seats while an outsize Tricolor waving in mechanized digital motion fills the screen as the anthem plays out in Dolby sound.

“Please stand up dear … !” His ears turn pink with embarrassment in the semi-darkness.
“But I don’t like this. I feel for the anthem and I think a cinema hall is really an indecorous setting for it!”
She protests as a few heads turn to look at them.

“It’s ok, damn it! ” He hisses as he tugs her up a little brusquely by the arm “Let’s just do what everyone else is doing.” 

He adds, worried ,throwing a furtive glance around whispering into her ear as she gives in and rises up scowling

“We can never know who is watching, you know … or what they might do …”

Where were we?



Of course, it’s great the Brits left after their round of looting and all that , but still… Independence?  
My brows pucker up as I search within my cellars and attics.I sure have lots of illusions but this one is definitely a weakling in the litter.

And mother-promise;I am not thinking article 370 anymore. Or that damning Pehlu Khan lynching case verdict either as I say this (Uff! it just popped in.This Monkey-mind I tell you! ).
Instead, a dead hill suddenly slumps its rotting heavy weight in a cascade of loose mud on an entire village in another valley closer home.

 As we laid ground for it’s decimation granting permits left, right and centre for quarrying without stopping the thousands of illegal ones already in action, we had forgotten that we were dependent on it.
It is the same with all the choked up canals and rivers that coughed up tons of plastic muck in a self-detox attempt last year.But then we dumped it all right back in and… That’s right.


We again forgot.

When the rains stopped, our tipper trucks promptly stacked what remains of our hills scooped up by the JCBs and rushed to fill in the next wetland or fallow field.

We do not just forget. More often than not,we carefully choose to forget.

So In-dependence makes better sense to me as a life form inhabiting this earth. Much more than Independence ever did.

A crisscrossing network of in-dependences becomes Inter-dependence.
When acknowledged gratefully by all those involved, these go beyond egoic denial or prosaic transactionality and become imbued with a certain heart-expanding grace from which hymns and psalms naturally spring.

And then Interdependences grow into awareness for what they really are: a poetic, complex, richly symbiotic network of inextricable relationships.

Not that I know many languages, but there is this word in Malayalam that has a sweeter sound than any other perhaps in the world that describes this. In English, it is loosely translated into ‘Mutuality’ but it falls pretty flat put that way.
So let’s say ‘pass’ and not even try…
Try saying it?
“Paa-rass-parr-yum” That’s right.

A feel rises to mind with its sound …
Rich dark-chocolate soil littered with decomposing leaves of various hues with all sorts of little beetles hiding and munching their innards. Maybe if we are silent we can hear them at work.

A hilly topography of earthworm mounds of dense humus. A few are suddenly washed away, as a little girl squatting on the ground pisses them playfully into microsized landslides  that wouldn’t even bury a passing ant.

Seeds of all kinds embedded in the earth’s steaming moistness.
 Their tender root- radicals are probably already hooked gently one in another under the soil; Like fingers of friends.

Together they stand and raise their plumule- green question marks to the foliage-filigreed skies rapidly  filling with the first rain clouds.

As anonymous internet wisdom, pretty classy stuff some amongst all the fake news, recently observed with deceptive simplicity:

“After all,all said and done, we owe our existence to six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains, don’t we?” 

So… Happy In-Dependence Day !!!☺️

#independence #ecologicalpatriotism #freedom #forest #keralafloods #climatechange #ekarasa#sparcsstudio






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