India at 70.

For this years Independence day celebration, my mom invited me to her school for the celebrations, it would also be the last time she would hoist the flag at the school she taught for 34 years - she retires at the end of August. I already knew the pictures i wanted to take, the school, the children, the flag after my mom hoisted it, the teachers etc. I had already planned what and how I would take the pictures as i knew my way around the school. But as usual the weather gods had other plans for us. The night before, Bangalore saw terrible rains that uprooted many many trees around the city, destroyed many electrical poles, and among all this, it also ruined a field where the kids of AGCC high school wee set to perform many numbers they had prepared for the days celebration.

As I got up that morning, lazy, resisting to get dressed in my white kurta fearing it will get ruined in the rain and our muddy roads, something urged me to wear it anyway and get dressed and make my way to the school. And I was so happy that I did. I thought I had gone a bit over with the makeup and the earrings and the bangles; but oh no, the girls from high school were all present in their white kurtas too with bright lipstick, neatly braided hair, smiles from one end of the face to the other, colourful bangles, bindis, earrings; they brought the sun that day. The other kids too, in their 'sports day uniform' - in their respective houses - red, green, yellow and red, all ironed white bottoms ready to start the day. They were a sight for sore eyes!

It all begun with the school prayers - everyone had their eyes closed as they sang the school prayer, the school song, the state anthem and finally the national anthem after the flag was hoisted, in unison. The flag as I imagined wasn't really dancing in the wind, it was merely unfurled and stood in this one position as there was no wind,  the continuous drizzle kept the damp flag from dancing. As the children had their eyes closed, I took a look around the school and saw their teachers too dressed up for the occasion, the male staff and teachers took the effort and they all looked sharp. What caught my eye in all this was the PT teacher who had no sandals on, she walked around the field barefoot, keeping the kids in straight lines, taking down names of those giggling, one loud blow from her whistle got them all in attention.
I could only assume her sandals broke trying to keep pace with her on the field. she couldn't be bothered that her feet or her saree was getting ruined by the mud. She walked all around keeping order and by that keeping time with the days program. I've been coming to this school watching my mother and her colleagues over the years, the effort they take to educate the kids giving them equal opportunities and activities that they could look forward too, and this day was no less. Everyone was participating, not just the students, but the teachers and the other staff members too. Come rain, come sun, everyone was present and there to celebrate and nothing could stop them. 

The program started by speeches about our nation and the brave hearts who sacrificed their lives for us. Each of the orators reminded us of freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, reminding us how we're all here because of them. They spoke with utmost pride, sincerity and humility in Hindi, Kannada and English. A beautiful skit was also performed with much enthusiasm and got a huge round of applause. But it was the dancers everyone was looking forward too. Songs like 'made in India', and other mainstream patriotic numbers brought back many fond memories when I used to perform in school. The young girls performed with so much gusto and enthusiasm, many of them came in white kurtas with colourful dupattas resembling our flag, I was cringing every time they had to kneel on the muddy ground for a step, just looking at them filled my heart with love and admiration.

Looking back on that day, I feel grateful and blessed to have this life, to have experienced what I have so far, to have gone through what I did, to continue learning life's lessons. As for the recent tragedies, a tyrant the internet has created, taking away many young people, hiding behind a kind and gentle sea creature; the blue whale - I pray these kids will grow up to be happy. Happy, in whatever they choose to do. I pray they fight, fight to live, pray they stand up for themselves and other around them. Pray they make this world a better place.  

Vande Mataram.