Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Show of Pride and a Symbol of Hope

They are not very different from each other.
Tall, handsome, broad-shouldered with pride and glory, shiny with their polished-to-perfection boots and medals, fervor, pride, or hatred setting their faces aglow, some real, some for the show. 

They know they can whip the crowd in to a frenzy, and their drill becomes sharper with each clap and whistle, each smile and hoot. They stamp harder, march swifter, make angrier faces at the enemy, as the crowd's pulse quickens. They give the people what they want. What they need. They are trustworthy, in a time when nothing much else is. 

People throng to see them, to see a rare display of belonging and pride that lasts all of thirty minutes. Clap for them. Get photographs with them. Almost worship them. For doing something that they want the country's leadership to do. Stand up for itself and for it's people. Stand up and have a spine. Stand up for the country's flag and its pride. Wake up from their stinking slumber that reeks of indifference and of shamelessness, and of selfishness and unlimited greed. 

Men, women, and children, shout and sing patriotic songs while seeing their brilliant faces, because it is a hope, a slight hope that maybe all is not lost. That maybe somewhere, the two countries' hearts and spirits, and their very souls, are still alive. 

So while they march and stamp, show anger and arrogance, to the screams of their countrymen, they become a symbol of all that is unsaid and un-vented, and that finds no other channel to be expressed. As people shout out expletives to the other country and its people, much is said about 26/11 and Kasab, about Guru and LeT, while much is also screamed out about Kashmir and Jihad. As Vande Mataram and Pakistan Pakistan fill the air, the gestures become angrier and the crowd more expressive. 

You just cannot sit there without screaming your lungs out. Something in you doesn't let you. Neither can you stop saying, again and again, that we are so much better than them. It does not matter in what. You just believe there, in that moment, that you are the best. You wipe away that tear of pride when the flag is brought home, and squeal with delight when your country's flag reaches home before the other's.

You shamelessly join the crowd in the chanting, and, whistle and clap, thinking that you are showing your neighbor how strong you really are, how you would have shot Kasab if you could have. How they have never actually won a military conflict or war, how you have not forgotten Kargil or Ahmedabad, or Pune, or Mumbai, or Delhi for that matter. You feel strangely elated. 

It takes 6 men to do that, to keep the promise of bringing the flag home, every evening, and to show people what we can be.

Another evening approaches, another show is awaited. 


Sabyasachi Patra said...

Its been more than a decade since I last saw this. One could hear the people cheering up. We saw the pakistani's on the other side of the border. Some one from the crowd said that the pakistani's too look like us. :) Nice post with images.

drhimangi said...

Thanku so much for the appreciation :) It sure is a spectacular show!! The similarity on the two sides is striking..and yet there is that simmering feeling of 'belonging'. It is an experience for sure :)

madhu bhardwaj said...

Excellent description and thought provoking comments on the Flag lowering ceremony at the Wagah border near Amritsar.