I was born in northern part of India, but my parents were from South of India, or to put it generically, were Madrasis. My life began in a small town in Bihar. For the first 3-4 years of my life, my outside contact apart from my parents were neighbors and their kids, so the childhood gibberish that I spoke did not sound anything like Malayalam, it was Bihari.
I was a Bihari by birth, and acted like one too. However, there were times in my school life, when I felt uncomfortable or out of place. I could not laugh like a possessed buffoon on hearing Madrasi jokes. The sleeping Madrasi in me perhaps added to this discomfort.
Time flew, after completing my higher secondary, I had to leave my birth place and settle down in my native place in Kerala. So, now I was in the place where I actually belonged, but bigger surprise was in store for me. It was only after I joined a college that I realized that there was no trace of either a Madrasi or a Malayali in me. The Malayalam which I spoke did not resemble to what others in my class spoke, I did not resemble the traditional Malayali and somebody said I resembled Lalu Prasad Yadav too. Thus all pretensions about being a Madrasi were thrown out of the window on the first day itself.
The important question now was….Who was I?
((Flash Back: 1984-1985…I am studying in a Prestigious Convent School in UKG class. I am new and have made 3 friends, Chandan, Abeed, and Gaurav. Chandan asks me a question, are you a Hindu? I tell him I am an Indian. Chandan says no, that is not correct, he gives me an example, “See I am Hindu, Abeed is Muslim, and Gaurav is Hindu, so you must be either Hindu or Muslim.” I feel bad as I do not fall into either group, but I keep on parroting “Indian” Religion. After school hours, I ask mother, whether I am Hindu or Muslim, she asks me what I feel I am, I tell her I am an Indian. She tells me that is the correct answer and that Indian is the grandest of all religions. I am very happy that what I told the other day in class is correct and double happy because it is the grandest of all. Next day, I go to school, as a proud Indian and proclaim my Indian Religion to ignorant masses there.))
That was 27-28 years ago. A lot has changed, I have grown up, have been working for near about a decade, have traveled across the length and breadth of India, and have interactions with people from all over India and from Asia and Middle Eastern Countries. From these interactions, I have come to appreciate the idea behind the foundations of my country, a country where people from different faith can live together under one national identity, where they can practice their faith without any kind of restrictions from state, where they can live a life of religion or be an atheist. It takes men of vision and character to visualize such an idea. Thank you Bapu, Bhagat Singh Ji, Subash Chandra Bose ji, and countless other nameless heroes for giving us this wonderful gift of Independence.
Let us take this idea, this vision forward, let us take our country to the very pinnacle of human achievement, let us be ……………..INDIANS…
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY TO ALL