It was 10:30 p.m. in the night. I was ready to dive into the world of my dreams, so I put on the song with a timer, ‘Ae Mere Vatan Ke Logo’ (as a customary formality owing to the Independence Day tomorrow), and closed my eyes to a peaceful sleep.
15th August 2015
”Do you know what time is it?” a smooth and serene voice whispered in my head.
”What??” I woke up with a start to find a female figure standing in the dark.
”Who’s there?! Is this you, mother?” I asked, disgusted to be woken up in the middle of the night.
”Do you know what time is it?” the voice repeated even more miserably.
I fumbled around my bed to locate my phone and replied, frustrated, “Its midnight, what’s wrong?”
The figure started towards me, and I kept moving backwards to the brim of the bed.A strange light fell over the figure and revealed a saddened, ragged still beautiful face. She had a white sari on, covered with blood and ash with a tiara on her head studded with diamonds shining in my eyes, blinding me.
I put my hand over my eyes and rubbed them. I spoke, ”Who are you? What happened to your clothes? Why are you here? Did someone hurt you?”, while I opened my eyes, now adjusted with the little light in the room.
”Do u realise that it’s Independence Day? That it’s 15th of August?” the woman, now weak in her legs, sat on the floor, and asked me sadly.
“Oh yeah, I know its Independence Day! I slept playing a patriotic song. But wait, why are you telling me that? What happened, who did this to you?” I was really getting restless. The question of how did she enter my house was far from my dazed mind seeing the state that woman was in.
“I was strolling through the streets to see how my kids celebrate this day, how they enjoy their freedom. Regretfully, I do not see freedom anymore. Thousands of my kids died for you to sleep peacefully, but did youdo something, anything for the coming generation, for your kids? All I could see around me was my people doing their usual chores, chatting about how we became independent, or why that guy died in some daily soap. Nobody seemed to care about the present India, which is composed of money hoarders, corrupt politicians, lazy citizens, poor and hungry villagers, uneducated kids, overcrowded old-age homes, and terror-struck people living in the fear of death, carefree youth drowned in the devastating social media. The selfless army officers are guarding you all, but are you all worth protecting?
“I see that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The women of my land are fighting for their respect. Is this what my kids died for? If this had been the condition of my India in 1947, I would have never got independent. My children then, used to care about me; they were my pride, but now? Is there anyone who can say I should be proud of him? Did you do something for your country, for your motherland, for me? Every year this day, I roam around the streets to see the condition of my land that I bestowed upon you all.” she cried while she spoke.
She continued, “I weep the blood of the martyrs who fought for their country, for my freedom.” The tears in her eyes changed colour to red.
“The ashes of those glorified dead are on my hands, but I have found none who has a forehead they should enliven. Do you really think I am free? Is your country free? I carve for the heroes who respect my existence and fight for my freedom, my real freedom. I want my people to walk on the roads around the world with a head held high. I want them to be proud of where they belong. I do not just want more and more songs being composed on my freedom back then, I want people to write the future of the new India, the really free and proud India.”
“I want that the next time I come around to walk the streets I shouldn’t find the need to look down for manholes and pools of stagnant waters. I want my people to break the language barriers and respect their mother tongue. I want people to take pride in speaking their native language, be it Hindi, Marwari, Gujarati, Telegu or Marathi. I want that the next time I visit my land I should be able to see every little child smiling, going to school and singing their national anthem proudly.”
She continued without breathing, “I want that when the next time I visit you, you should be waiting for me to tell me how relieved I should be about the present and the future of India. Maybe then, I will be covered with the colours of happiness, peace and prosperity. Saffron, white and green, those would be the colours my existence will reflect. The Tiranga flies and flutters in the air every year, but next time it will fly high freely not to lie down ever. That is the India I dream of, that is the India I want. I hope that this time I chose the right person to make a change.” Her eyes started to gleam and sparkle while she spoke of the future, her lips curved into a smile.
Suddenly her whole persona brightened with a pool of white light, the saddened face was now full of hope. She spoke a little differently rather fiercely, “Now you may sleep my child, but the peace that you had before is never going to come unless you make a change.”
She glimmered with light and poof! I covered my eyes. She was gone. When I opened my eyes, I had tears. I rubbed my eyes and looked for her again but all that I could find was darkness. Then a light gleamed out of nowhere and a golden pedal dropped down in my lap. I switched on the light to see it. It had a picture of Mother India on it. The same face I was talking to a few minutes back. I smiled a little and then slept to wake up to a new day, a new India, to do my part, to make a change.