Dear India, Where Are You? I Looked Everywhere, I Can’t Find You

Dear India, on 26 Jan, we say we’re proud of you. The rest of the year, we stain you with the blood of our own.

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Oh my beloved India, where are you?
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Dear India,

Where are you?

I know it’s not like I look for you every day. In my defense, I’m pretty busy looking for ways to survive 26 January. But Republic Day also happens to be one of the two days in the year when I do try and look for you.

Oh my beloved India, where are you?

I looked around me but I couldn’t find you. You couldn’t possibly be in one of those potholes on the street, or in one of those overflowing garbage bins, where small children try and scrounge for food. No, we wouldn’t keep you there. We respect you far too much for that.

Oh my beloved India, where are you?

I decided to get out and look for you elsewhere. Surely, I'd find you somewhere. The Capital of India, that’s where I would find you, I thought. But with the amount of pollution, smog and smoke, it was hard to see you. We wouldn't want you to be in a place where your lungs are destroyed with every breath you take. Worry about your health, we surely do.

Oh my beloved India, where are you?

Maybe you're sitting somewhere in the Northern states of Haryana or Uttar Pradesh, enjoying the peace and tranquility that our temples and gods provide.

But when I looked there, all I could see was women being raped on the streets and stones being pelted at schoolchildren, as the people painted their religions over one another. Of course, you’d find no solace there.

Oh my beloved India, where are you?

Perhaps you are in the North Eastern states, full of culture and diversity. But someone told me the people there don't look like me. They speak different languages than I do and their plates look different from that of mine. A place that we don’t consider as our own is definitely not where I will find you.

Oh my beloved India, where are you?

Kashmir! That’s where you would be. After all, it is heaven on earth – a paradise created by God. Who wouldn't want to be there? But the pellet-scarred faces of children, and young Kashmiris pelting stones at uniformed officers can be a terrifying sight. I think it would have scared you too.

Oh my beloved India, where are you?

I decided to look towards the Western states. Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have always been on the crest. But I just saw malls being set on fire even as farmers kept dying because they are denied the food that they once used to cultivate to feed us all.

Surely this false sense of pride does not befit a place for you.

Oh my beloved India, where are you?

The South has always been beautiful. It includes ‘God's own country’ too. But all I could find there was famine and mayhem. People there fought one another over the rivers that flow. If you were there, they would have fought for claim over you too.

Oh my beloved India, where are you?

Tired, I came back. Exhausted, I sat down. I had lost all my energy without moving a single mile. The vivid pictures of chaos, hunger and poverty made me feel depressed and cold. Are you feeling depressed and cold too?

Oh my beloved India, where are you?

A frail old woman, hunched over with age, approached me. She wore a torn sari. She figured I was hungry and offered me some food. "Eat it, beta," she told me, giving me the food she had kept for herself. I told her I was not hungry, but that I was looking for you.

Oh my beloved India, where are you?

She insisted that I eat the food. She told me I had many miles to go before I found you. I offered her my jacket in return, to keep away the cold. She refused, saying that someone would snatch that away from her too. I looked deep into her eyes as she smiled back at me.

And in her compassionate, loving eyes, I saw you.

Oh my beloved India, I finally found you!

Tomorrow will be the day when we will show everyone our might. We will lay down a red carpet for the world and cheer and clap. While women weep, children cry and the carpet stains with the blood of our own, we will put up a strong face of pretense and farce. You will lie there on some lonely street, with your clothes that we have torn, and with your soul that we have ripped apart. But for the world, we will have just one thing to say...

Oh my beloved India, I am proud of you.

Yours sincerely,
An Indian who is still looking for his India

(Author’s Note: This letter is an attempt by me, Darshan Mondkar, to find India, amid her people, amid her masses. If you find her, please let me know. I would love to meet her someday. Happy Republic Day.)

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