Friday, August 15, 2008

Plastic Flags on false holidays, anyone?

So the Grand Old Lady turned 61 today!!!
A Friday. A nice rainy day. A perfect day for a lie in.
Or. A three day weekend. A perfect time to take a mini break.
But we were up half an hour earlier than usual, so we could attend the flag hoisting at my older one’s school. It would have been nice to not have to wake up so early and trudge out in the rains - and many of the parents of my son’s classmates obviously thought the same – but I would not have wanted it any different.

Growing up in a mining colony as I did, the Independence Day flag hoisting was always something we looked forward to. Blue skies, the women in crisp cotton sarees, the choir with its fixed repertoire of national integration songs, the suspense around whether or not the flag would unfurl as it is supposed to, the drama when a CISF jawan was called to assist the person hoisting the flag, the national anthem, the ladoos.
It is just not the same anymore. Most schools have a holiday on Independence Day. But since they want to do something to commemorate the Day, they celebrate it the previous day.

August 14 is when kids go to school in saffron, white and green clothes, or dressed up as figures from the freedom struggle, and come back home with plastic flags. On the eve of our Independence Day, kids of all shapes and sizes are playing with tricolours. For sometime it looks almost idyllic, but then the flags are converted into power ranger weapons, and before you know it, the staple pins holding them up give way, and they work their way to the nearest drain. For a few days after Independence Day, you cannot help stepping on at least a couple of plastic tricolours every time you get out of the house, and most of the drains get clogged with them.
But the disrespect everyone ends up showing the flag is no greater than the injustice done to our country by hoisting the national flag the day before Independence Day. Not only is it illegal, it is also the supreme irony that we end up celebrating Independence Day on the day when Pakistan got its independence.

Which is why, rain or no rain, I am glad to have to get out of bed early in the morning on Independence Day to attend a flag hoisting at my son’s school. At least the school authorities have got it right and give our national holiday the respect it deserves.

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