As a little boy of ten, I was celebrating my victory in a game of marbles with my friends when I heard my father shriek.
He was terribly upset on learning that my uncle had been murdered. It sent fear in my mind. Not very long ago, my little brother died due to doctors not attending to him. I had rushed to them and pleaded to save the little infant, but due to the war siren, they had simply refused.
When my little brother’s body sank into the Ganges, I saw myself sink with him. It was the first time I sensed death. In such a situation, it was natural that my father was heartbroken, like me. My brother’s death totally broke him down.
But before the crack of dawn my father seemed a changed man. He had a renewed sense of energy as he took quick, powerful strides. We walked for a few miles to board a bus to the Red Fort to witness Pandit Nehru’s Independence Day speech.
I saw my father who was sad that morning, suddenly change and spiritedly cheer Nehruji with loud applause. As I saw my father’s excitement and the subsequent change in him, the seeds of independence were sown in my life.
Today, things seem to be so different. Sixty-two years later, when I flip through pages of the independence book, it evokes a strange feeling of sadness in me.
Mere desh ki dharti has made way for a concrete jungle that houses soulless folk who care little about their farmer brethren. With every farmer suicide, I feel something in me die. If every Indian felt that way, we would probably be someplace else and developing in the real sense.
This is the era of multiplexes and mall culture. I think of the tricolour being sold at traffic signals for a paltry price and wish that every Indian who pays a small price for the flag actually spends a minute to think of the nation.
It would make for a better contribution than just paying for a tricolour that would be relegated to the street with cars driving over it a day after independence celebration.
True independence would mean freedom from self-centred thinking and placing the nation above oneself. Only on implementing this, would the tricolour unfurl in our souls and herald a truly independent India.
As told to Anusha Samir Gill-Srinivasan (The writer is penning Manoj Kumar’s biography, Life And Death In Installments)