With a smile on his lips and naughtiness twinkling in his eyes, he woke me up in the morning by saying,
“Amma, I FEEL SO ENERGETIC! Wake up, the sun’s shining bright. Independence Day is here. You promised me to tell so many things about our country today!”
And here I was, lazy to move from the bed, with my pregnant belly and a mind still exhausted from having a sleepless night. I was not in a mood to celebrate any special day but then I knew my first born is all excited to celebrate India’s 74th Independence Day. Today’s day would be filled with questions about the 200 years British ruled us and our struggle to win back our Motherland from the foreigner’s grips and much more.
I had to be prepared for the long conversations that lay ahead. Building a narrative that sparks his patriotism, continuously engaging his mind into the conversation as well as keeping his interest levels up, was challenging yet a rewarding experience.
So let me share the excerpts of our conversations about My India! My motherland’s tale about the rich heritage and culture, her generosity and inclusive nature, her sufferings and her bearings!
Ayaansh: Amma, who is a freedom fighter? And why did they fight? And what were their superpowers?
Me: Freedom fighters were great people who fought against the persons who troubled others, by capturing our land, wealth and happiness. They had to fight for all of us, so that we can enjoy and relish our country’s beauty, wealth and build homes for all of us to grow in our own motherland.
Our motherland India was very very rich. She was called as ‘Sone ki Chidiya.’ But when Britishers came to our country they took away all our wealth, food, art, and so many other things to their country – England. They made us all slaves, ie work for them and they didn’t even treat us properly. So many brave and courageous people formed groups and fought with the British to get our things back and tell them to get out of our Country.
A: (still thinking hard) So what were their superpowers?
Me: Their superpowers were their love for the country and all the people. They also had a strong heart filled with courage and willpower. They never rested till they got the freedom for the country. They always believed they could win the struggle and inspired others to join them.
A: Okay, but why did many of them die before Independence? Remember the movie we saw – Bhagat Singh? He had a black mask on his face and he was tied by the police, remember?
Me: Oh yes, I do remember. Bhagat Singh was a very brave and courageous freedom fighter we ever had. He was very young when he started fighting for our country. He always believed that he had two Mothers – one his own mother and India, our motherland. So he was very devoted towards both of them. There is a Bhagat Singh Memorial in Khatkar Kalan, Punjab which we can visit sometime to understand his story. In the Parliament of India, there is huge statue of Bhagat Singh which has been made to honor his contribution to the country.
A: Wow! I want to be a freedom fighter too! When will the Britishers come again?
Me:(rolling my eyes) You don’t need Britishers or any other people to be a freedom fighter. You just have to feel the love for your Country in your heart, the same way you love me and daddy. And moreover, India has again grown to a really Big Country now. We are very much valued for our intelligence in all the fields, our farmers are our backbone and India gives many farm goods to all the countries in the world. Also there are so many Indians working in many countries at a top level.
A: (slightly sad and angry) But I want to be a freedom fighter. If Britishers won’t come, how will I fight?
Me: Darling, Britishers already ruled us for 200 years and after we fought them, they ran back to their country, now they won’t dare attack us again.
A: TWO HUNDRED YEARS!!! That’s 100 + 100!!! So many years!!
Me: Yes, they were long and hard years indeed. So if you want to be a fighter for the Country, you can do that by joining our Defence Forces: Army, Navy, Airforce. Or you can be a community helper like Police, Doctor, Teacher or join the Indian Politics like our Prime Minister – Narendra Modi! You have many options to choose from when you grow big.
A:(once again with all excitement and a naughty smirk) Amma, if I be a Doctor or Teacher, how will I fight? Our teacher always tells us not to fight. Doctors also tell us not to hurt anyone. And the Prime Minister is not fighting in the TV. I will become a Police!
Me: Well, that’s a great way to fight the wrong doers! Good job!
A: Okay, Tell me about India before the Britishers? What did we do then?
Me: India was always a land of inventions. People with brilliant minds invented many things by which the world benefited. We had medicines made from plants and chemicals before others even discovered it. We invented the number Zero. We invented everything from buttons to clothes, from eye surgeries to wireless communications. We also discovered many board games that we play today like Snakes & Ladders, Chess, etc.
A: Wow! We had big brains then. Is it because all of us ate vegetables and fruits?
Me: Yes, India was a land where plants flourished. We had thick vegetation in our country, i.e. we grew many vegetables and fruits in our country. We should also thank many Kings who came to India and brought their favorite plants, spices, vegetables, etc. and planted it here. We Indians always welcomed people from far away countries. Our brave kings welcomed everyone and presented them with lots of jewels, wealth and also with the artistic talents.
A: That’s awesome. What is artistic talents?
Me: Every part of India had different kind of people and they all liked to do or learn different things, make different things, wear different things. People from South India had abundance of coconut trees, so they made various handicrafts out of it. Since many of the South Indians stayed close to the water, they excelled in making boats, ferrying around. South India also has Bharatnatyam, Kathakkali, Mohini Attam which are dance forms, martial arts like kalari payattu and much more. We loved music and thus Carnatic music was born.
A: (with an overwhelmed expression) Tell me more!
Me: We also excelled at drawing and made paintings that are still valued over million dollars. We were excellent designers and all the great monuments, temples and forts we see today were made by us. The beautiful stupas, the intricate carvings of idols and figures were all hand-made and they still look beautiful after thousands of years. Do you know, we made clothes with amazing designs/prints that fitted inside a ring or a match box?
A: How is that possible Amma? We cannot wear such tiny clothes, don’t fool me!
Me: No, I am not fooling you. It is true. Even few years before, when Michelle Obama visited India, she was given a saree that fitted in a matchbox. It was a super soft silk saree presented by a weaver from Andhra Pradesh, which again brought this amazing art into life. We Indians were great fashion designers. We invented many cloth types, had many designs and artwork on it, worked with various colors and even made some amazing and valuable jewelry. The Syamantaka Stone/Kohinoor is 5000 years old and still is the highest costing diamond in the entire world.
A: (Very affectionately) I will buy that for you when I grow big.
Me:(overwhelmed with his love and innocent heart) You can perhaps, but the Kohinoor Diamond is now a part of the Crown Jewels for the British Queens.
A:(agitated) You said it is our country’s oldest and costliest jewel. It should be with us. Now, I am definitely fighting with the British and becoming freedom fighter only!
Me: But…. (before I even complete the sentence, he runs to his father to proclaim that he is going to be a freedom fighter when he grows up and is going to fight the British to get the Kohinoor Diamond for his Amma!)
At this juncture, honestly I was overwhelmed with his passion to understand the sense of belongingness and his inclination towards Bhagat Singh. I also wondered how India would be, if every child here has the patriotic feeling ingrained from the childhood itself. And with that note, I would just leave you, my readers to have a conversation with your kids and instill that ‘My India” feeling in them.
And you can find all the wonderful posts on “My India” under the #SpeakeasyWithRuchiNDips>