That was a festival day, since twenty five years
back, on that day our country became a republic. The festival was being celebrated on a grand, opulent way by all those who
could afford to do so.
In the grand city of Delhi, the wide road leading
to India gate from Rashtrapati bhavan is known as Rajpath.
For that road that was a very big festival day.
That place called Vijay Chowk, and the regally laid
road The Rajpath, go hand in hand with the festival, as if Lutyens conceived them only for this day.
In that biting cold on that morning –
Children, their parents, couple without children,
men and women who are not couples yet, clerks, businessmen, officers, were there.
Guests, representatives, members, ambassadors, and
the other elders, luminaries, yesetrdays suns, tomorrows moons, were also there at a distance…
People with enthusiasm. People with curiosity. People
surging ahead. People marching forqard. People and people. All around people. Exactly at – parade started. Elegant uniforms. Excellent band along. Rhythms, trumpets, marching asd per
rhythm. Dresses moving along the rhythm.. medals moving accordingly.
Sun’s rays adding new sheen to the drersses
and the medals.
Medals bathing in the colours raining from thr splitting
The parade started.
In the same city –
A street between sanatnagar and the fourth block
of the Karolbagh area. It’s name is Valmiki street. No one reads
Ramayanam in that street. But they make idols of Rama. They make Krishna idols too. Gnesha, Durga,
Siva, the paunchy sanyasi, and the rich girl kamakshi holding a boquet and wearing a frock – they make many idols like
But where is the demand for the idols? The idols
can never atiate the hunger of their makers. Lives of those people hanging from the last rung of the ladder called the middle
class are not the plates with food served on them. Of them meny lives are leaf plates torn by the dog called the life.
That is a place where there ten people per square
yard. It is a part of a socialist regime wher with those ten people there are the swines, goats, cocks, and the dogs too.
That colony os a place where there is no discrimination between filth and not so filthy. That is an abode of people who only
worry about aa piece of roti all along from dawn to dusk.
In one of those many houses there, in the families
that are planned and not planned –
Belongs a girl to one of them and is aged six, and
named Munnu. Wide eyes, unkempt hair, her mother applies oil to her head only once ina week. Her father mends cycles at the
entrance of that street. Munnu has a sister and brother too. Their hobby is somehow getting something usefull for the household.
The republic day parade started.
De Mello’s voice is reverberating melodiously
through the loud speaker.
Lok at those red turbans and the shining swords,
the contingent of Hissar regiment approaches like as if the sun descends onto the eareth.last year when the enemies attacked
our country, this regiment with all the Gallantry…”
That artillery regiment marching to the tune of
their own band troupe was approaching.
Clapping, merriment, magnificient sight.
[ munnu’s daily parade startyed.
Chinnu along with Munnu.
Durga Radha and Meera trailing,
There were no march pasts there…
It is always march present…
It’s a march of running and walking mixed
Anticipation in the faces.
Question marks in all the eyes.
Talking and giggling.
Shouts, hoots, debates.
Waiting for something –
Frabrance s under the burden of life…]
There comes proudly sparkling vyjayanta tank.. victory
dance in the heart of the enemie’s heart look at it. There it is do you know whwt is it that is fgollowing next?You sure know it right. The gnat that cused the enemies rout in the fight last year.”
Pride. Merriment. Celebration of victory. Clapping
incessant like rain. “ there follows the pair of paratroopers… and following them is the regally swaying camel
troupes from the jaisalmer risala..”
Lights of the republic day celeberations reflecting
in lakhs of eyes….
[Munnu, Chinnu, Meera , Radha, children of the age
where only lights and not the darkness is familiar….
There heads are swaying hither and thither like
of those witnessing a tennis match between R.Krishnan and Manuel santana.
Those eyes are looking somewhere for something.
“ Durga! Do you know I bought an ice cream
for 10 paise and ate it yesterday? It was so good…”
the other children calling that taste on to their
lips in a way possible to only saints..
next moment once again the eager looks…]
the same voice from the loud speaker.
The majestic and sweet voice.
“ What a great country is ours? How great
are our arts! What a variety , a brilliance and beauty in our dance forms!! Symbolising all that look at the beauty of the
Garbha dance from Gujarat…”
colorful costumes? Sweetest songs, dancing steps
never out of rhythm.
“ witness the dance of the valiant naga heroes
Dabara dabara dub! Dub dub dub!
Costumes with blacka nd red stripes, head gear made
out of colorful quills, cowry necklaces, drums and drums of all kinds…
never out of rhythm dance as the plaits jump up winding around each other….
[ ‘Balloons-whistles-and dolls’ going around shouting like a cloud in the month of Shravana.
They looking at him like the mythical Chataka birds.
Dolls in adistance of a plan period from them.
Lights that never light in those eyes looking.
Wishes hesitating to flower, in those little hearts.
‘ look there Dwaraka’
‘ look there’
Shri Krishna-Siva-Yama-Laksmi- a lakh of rupees in the lottery, all of them together-
Wonder-happiness-eagernesswhile Munnu, Meera, Chinnu, Durga, Radha, Tinku
dash towards the spot.]
“ There ! Youth of the country surging forward
for the sake of national security! The determination in their eyes. The spring in their steps-look at them –“
[ It is not walking. It is running. Munnu reached
the target before the other ten. What an enthusisam. Behold and behold!]
There comes our Border security force. And in the
tableaux that follow the first is flower wagon of progress. What an expertise and what a beauty…”
Flowers raining in the hearts of millions witnessing.
[ That is the real thing. That is the one which
moves and makes the others move. That is it. The one that stops and makes the others stop. It runs and makes the others run.
Like the novel behind the Telugu cinema, munnu behind that.
Whether she walks, stops, or runs Munnu does not
loosen the grip on the basket anddoes not let it loose position.]
Have you witnessed the Saber Jets in the sky? The
gnats the Hunters, the Migs in formations flying past. Flying with all the pride in our free skys . they are the symbols of
our determination and aspirations.”
Elders and children crane their necks and looka
t the sky. Millions of eyes witnessing without batting their lids.
[ Yes… There it is…done. How long another
one moment. Munnu knows that moment. She is waiting only for that great moment. She will wait further. The basket will be
full. Mother will be happy. She will say ‘ Meri pyari Munnu!’ and cuddle her.]
Now1 Now! Now!
“ look at that! From atop the towers of the
Rshtrapati Bhavan spewing smoke in three colosand flying – surging like the winds at the end of the creation –
those planes -looka at thos e heroes marauding like the vultures in the sky!
With the heights of our targets, with the speed of our development, creating rangois in our free skies, those heroes and their
vehicles,… there they are soring… up up nad higher… coming down like comets.. in a swirling movement past
the saluting base in a salute formation… again soring high.. to the distances so fast… farther and farther…
like clouds among the clouds…stars among stars….look at them my country men… look at them with souring spirits…!”
[ Oh! Mother… the basket is full.
Like the god granting a boon to the devotee, ambling
with gay abandon, going forward and forward, farthre and farther went the buffallo that was before Munnu.
With basket full of dung Munnu ran towards the house
jumping with joy!