Why I am not ready to give up on India yet

I open the newspaper and am rewarded with a slap across the face. So hard that I feel dizzy. My ears ring. A 5-year-old raped and killed by someone she used to call ‘Uncle.’ I put down the newspaper and try to figure out why I subject myself to this inhuman torture by opening the newspaper every morning. Then my bewildered eyes chance upon another bit of news, stashed away in some obscure corner – Retired Headmaster donates life’s savings towards opening girls’ school in remote rural Bengal. And my morning cup of tea tastes sweet once more.
Yes, I am ashamed to share a country with immaculately-dressed, glib thieves who don’t need to wait till nightfall to steal. But I am more proud of the autowalah who unhesitatingly returned a bagful of cash to its rightful owner.
It is easy to feel sick to the stomach with disappointment at Indians blowing up trains and temples, killing and plundering like it’s a game. But tell me, how difficult is it to be so proud that your heart bursts of the Indian soldiers who dare not fall asleep lest our peaceful night’s sleep be interrupted?
For every Indian who ever shot, stabbed or throttled, there is one stranger who picks up an injured Indian in his arms and doesn’t mind a long detour and a messed-up backseat to help him reach the hospital. I am proud of that faceless, nameless stranger.
India is the little beggar-boy who shares his bread with the stray dog. India is the hundreds of industrialists, musicians, actors, sportspersons, economists, film-makers, authors and more who insisted and ensured that India be taken seriously all across the globe. India is the rescue worker who rushes out into the raging waters, bottomless depths and hurricane-ravaged nothingness hoping to help fellow Indians he would never even know the names of. And it is so easy to be insanely proud of each one of them that it’s a miracle that so few Indians actually are.
I never paid much attention in History classes in school. But somehow, the freedom struggle stories stayed; maybe because they run more in the veins of each Indian than in textbooks. And it is this pulsating ‘Indian-ness’ that reminds me that 15th August is not just another holiday; it helps me get up early, put on some ‘Indian attire’ and head to the local ‘flag-hoisting followed by snacks’ event. And it is this inherent pride that puts the obstinate lump in my throat as they blast ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon’ from a spluttering stereo. And it is this indomitable Indian spirit that makes me so stubborn in my resolve that I, for one, am definitely not ready to give up on India yet.


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