Happy Independence Day!!

Kal hi shyam ko Sharma-ji ne

topi nayi kareedi

Ghar par TV dekh rahe hain

Papa, mummy, didi

Lal Kile ke aas paas hai

Azadi ka mela

Sabse upar nach raha hai

Jhanda ek akela

Kadam badhate, band bajate

fauji aate jaate

poore laan mein bacche budhe

chane murmure khate

Sabhi kehte hai aaj ke din

azad hua tha Desh

Aaj ke din hi Angrezon ka

raj hua tha shesh

Apni to kuch samajh na aaye

Azadi aur Desh

Hum to chhat se dekh rahe hain

patang patang ki peench

Humse koi pooche: ” Bachoon

azadi kya hoti hai?”

Hum keg denge, ” Us din sabki

poori chutti hoti hai!!”

-Safdar Hashmi

On the surface, this is just a delightful poem for children. Look deeper, it’s a scathing commentary on what we have reduced ourselves to.

Translation coming soon. All are welcome to help.

Here’s the meaning –

A child is describing a typical  *15th August  celebration in New Delhi, the capital India.

On this occasion, some people go out and buy new clothes. Most prefer to sit inside and watch the celebrations on TV. The area around the Red Fort is milling with people. Hawkers and peddlers have set up their stalls. It’s like a fair has come to town.High up in the turrets, the national flag flies. Proud and alone.

Below,  the soldiers entertain crowds by parading stiffly to their brass bands. People munch on their munchies and cheer them.

The children have been taught that the importance of the day is that this was the day the country became independent. This was the day the British rule over India ended. But the children don’t get what the fuss is all about. They find it more exciting to watch the **kite fights from the rooftops. If anyone were to ask the them, “Children, what is the significance of this day?” They would promptly respond ” It’s the day the entire nation has a HOLIDAY!!!”

*15th August is the day of Indian independence. You’ll see why I have chosen to refer to it by date rater than as independence day.

**Kites are sent up on this day, as a symbol of hope and dreams. Fighting and cutting each others kites is again a subtle allegory.


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