Celebrating 15 August… in Simla of the Sixties

Celebrating 15 August… in Simla of the Sixties

My eleven years old grandson called me just now and said in a mechanical manner, “Happy Independence Day Nani”!!!  So it is 15 August today, I realised.  And was surprised that I had no idea about it since after retirement every day was a holiday. I felt ashamed of thinking 15 August as another holiday and thought of my grandson. Dies  he really have an iota of the feeling of real ecstacy that we as kids of the Sixties felt on 15 August?? What did he feel….happy and excited or another day of tokenism for him?? Would he ever know the excitement and hoy that his Nani felt….long back….on 15 August?  Perhaps not.

We never would call the day as Independence day as we were novice, rustic and simple. For us it used to be just 15 August and we would wait for it with much eagerness as we knew how important Azaadi was for the nation. We would say, “Aaj ke din Bharat aazaad hua tha!” All the stories of the colonial buildings, lifestyle, the Mall, the  black and white photographs of Saab and Memsaabs on display at Bindra Studio….had made us aware of what being a “Gulaam” nation meant for its citizens. We had grown up listening to stories of the sacrifices made by our people to get “Aazadi”!!
Whatever gaps we had in our imagination…they were filled by the patriotic films shown by Sound and Drama division, films like Shaheed, Maharani Laxmi Bai etc. We lived watching them feeling to our very core the sacrifices made by these brave men and women so that we could live and breathe in Azaad Bharat.

Amma would say the first thing in the morning, “Jaldi utho…aaj  15 August hai!!!” And Bauji would add, ” Jhanda fehrane nahi jaana kya?” And we would jump up excitedly. The loudspeakers would be blaring from the Arya Samaaj Mandir songs of patriotic fervour and I would hum alongwith all those songs. I knew them from heart…everybody of my generation knew it and knows the very wordings even today! These songs are ingrained in our genetic memory!!
We would get ready, hurriedly and holding the hand of Bauji would go to the Head Post-office where Tiranga Jhanda would be unfurled by the Suprintendent of the Post-office. We, the kids, would sing “Jan-Gan-Man”…. Believe me when I sang it my lityke heart would swell with emotions and my small head would tilt upwards towards the Tiranga Jhanda with a pride which I cannot express in any words ..no words would be enough for that feeling! We would get laddoos neatly packed in small brown paper bags and trot back…but not to our home. We would take a whole round of the Mall, look at the Tiranga Jhanda flying proudly on many a shops and buildings. We would compare which flag looked better or was flying more breezily in the free air of the Mall…the same Mall where allegedly Indians were not allowed during the evening hours when Saahib logs came to “eat air”!!! Walking in the Mall on the morning of 15 August watching Tiranga on every ship and building was so fulfilling for our heart and soul.

I would walk towards the Baljees stairs and would listen to loudspeakers at Chhotta DAV school blaring such songs of Desh Bhakti that instead of runni g down the stairs I woukd thump my feet in tune with the songs. What an emotion would surge up in my heart….feeling of gratitude for unknown freedom fighters who sacrificed everything for our freedom. A song on lips, love and pride in heart and music in my feet would make me feel so happy.
And then, clutching the brown paper bag of laddoos,  we would come back to our home humming and singing the songs. My favourite was, “Insaaf ki dagar pe bachho dikhao chal ke…” I grew up thinking that we would be ” the Netas” if the future as the song promised *Neta tumhi ho kal ke”!
But sadly it was not to be….
But fortunately what has survived is the fervour of freedom that I still feel like a child…the same fervour which I felt on 15 August while growing up in lower Bazaar of Simla if the Sixties.  This ecstasy, hapiness and joy that I felt long back in the Sixties my grandson wishing me “Happy Independence Day” would perhaps never understand!! I still believe that if you have stood for some right cause, if you have raised
your voice against some wrong action, you deserve to be a citizen of an Independent nation and deserve accolade!
Happy Independence Day!
Wishing all my friends a very Happy Independence Day!!!

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