Independence Day!


Back when we moved into this suburb nearly 17 years ago, I remember clearly how barren the place was. Over time, empty houses started getting occupied, and the whole suburb lit up with life. I made friends with a dozen kids in the neighbourhood. I used to play with them, from anything from cricket to hockey to basketball. During the rain season, armed with toy guns which made funny sounds when fired, we enjoyed playing what we called “Robbers and Police”. An empty underground water tank in the porch of a deserted, dilapidated house formed our headquarters. It was dangerous what we did, but no-one I remember ever gave a thought to it. And I don’t even remember any of our parents admonishing us for jumping into dark, deep tanks, and sitting there, conducting covert meetings. It was all fun. Great fun.

Then there were the preparations for celebrating the Independence Day that each one of us looked forward to eagerly. I remember those vividly, as if it happened only yesterday. We would gather in the lounge of an empty house, buy lots of flags, threads, glue and paper flags, and whatnot. Within few days, the whole street would get adorned in hues of white and green. There would be paper flags, flapping and making the sound stiff paper makes when it strikes against a wall, all over the walls, from house to house. Large, thickly green and white flags would be seen flapping in the wind, wound with rope to the poles on each house. The grills on top of the perimeter walls on the houses would additionally be lit up by small colourful lights. At night, the whole street would look different: It would look colorful, lively, oozing with the spirit of celebrating the Independence Day. I remember all of it like it was just yesterday I walked out of such a breathtaking view.

Today is Pakistan’s 59th Independence Day. As I get out of my house, a strange feeling of sadness grips me. I see no flags. I see no lights. I see nothing that suggests today is a special day. For most people, today is just another holiday: A day to rest and sleep till late afternoon on. I swing my head, taking a deep, thorough look at the street that once used to be adorned as delicately as a bride. It looks so barren. Cars lined on either sides, the street looks deserted. There isn’t a single person in sight. Everyone’s sleeping. There isn’t a single flag flapping in the wind. I am not even sure the wind longs for the by-gone days. I am not even sure people realise the significance of the Independence Day. Granted, none of us is a kid anymore. Each one of us has grown up. Most have moved elsewhere, and those who still live here, are busy in their own schedules. But who said there aren’t any new kids on the street. There are. Many. But, these kids are different. Unlike us when we were their age, they come out only to play and then go back inside. The thrill of celebrating a special day such as today fails to enthuse them. To them, like to their parents, today is another holiday, to sleep, watch
TV, and play on. What a shame!

Happy Independence Day!

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7 thoughts on “Independence Day!

  1. LOL!
    It is true that the enthusiasm which I saw in my childhood has been decreased a lot over the years. But still it is not that bad here around my locality. May be it is because people in my area are very traditional in nature. I see great excitement in children as well as in adults in every occasion specially when it comes to religious events.

  2. That’s good. Talking of celebrating in localities, I realise the Independence Day fair, which is held every year on the night of Independence Day inside the football ground a block away from where I live, did not take place this time. I am surprised. There are lots of different stalls in the fair, with a stage set in the middle where musicans make music and singers sing on the top of their voices all night, and people roam around in circles, eating, enjoying. Nothing happened. :(

  3. Hmm, nice patriotic note!

    Well true for me too. We used to have annual functions on 14th August and 23rd March in our school in good old days. The events used to generate good hype in the campus and the little town Ghotki as well. We used have speeches and quizzes, wear the glossy green badges with shinning white stars on them, put the flag up. Although the whole thing was a little more than formality but still it used to create a good feeling twice an year. It used to remind us for what we are and how did happen to become this.

    But these functions have become somewhat irregular now. People tend to get away from all these feelings. I don’t know what is responsible for it. Maybe people have changed or got too busy with their stuffs. But so busy…!

  4. Hey ho Ayaz pa! When I was in Karachi a few weeks ago, I felt that it was a mechanized city, where people were robots. I don’t remember any faces there, because the city looked like a soggy oil painting… kia samjhey? It’s too active, and I guess people have more ‘important’ things to worry about than the Independence Day.

    But come here laddie, and I will show you how I put the flag up at the rooftop at 5 am, and take it down before the Maghrib prayer. It’s the spirit within that matters. [;)]

  5. Pingback: Independence Day « Libel

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