Castles in the air - they are so easy to take refuge in. And so easy to build, too.

आम्हां घरी धन शब्दांचीच रत्नें | शब्दांचीच शस्त्रें यत्न करुं ||
शब्द चि आमुच्या जीवांचे जीवन | शब्दें वांटूं धन जनलोकां ||
तुका म्हणे पाहा शब्द चि हा देव | शब्द चि गौरव पूजा करुं ||
- abhang of Tukaram Wolhoba Ambile of Dehu

There's No Freedom Like That of a Child's Imagination

கடலுக்கு உண்டு கற்பனைக்கு இல்லை கட்டுப்பாடு

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Little Plastic Flag

Last year on Independence Day eve I bought a plastic tricolour. Driven into guilty feelings by a newspaper columnist, I allowed myself to 'put a smile' on a roadside urchin vending plastic flags, stuck to plastic straws. He took the five rupee coin, moved out of sight and and left me thirsting for his smile. I was left with a bright object orange, white and green, with the mandatory chakra thrown in on both sides.

It went home and rested on my desk for some days. Then as the fervour cooled off and the freshness patriotism washed off, the flag began to look like a kitschy eyesore among the tchotchke accumulated on my table top. Mother made signs for its removal, suggesting it be consigned to the dustbin now that festivities were over. I refused.

It was still the national flag, and therefore I was bound by the national flag code. It could be disposed off only by incineration, which is not a good thing to do to anything made of plastic. Still, under pressure, I moved it into the wardrobe to rest unseen.

The flag moved over the next several months all over my shelves and drawers. It attained an ungainly shape. The mast was bent in several places, and large wrinkles ran through the body of the fly. A dark blotch appeared mysteriously on the canton. It began to look less and less like the offical standard of the Indian Republic. Yet I retained for it some vestige of respect. Some of it was due to the guilt hammered in the by now forgotten columnist, and the idea that my impulsive purchase would have filled a little belly someday.

It became the butt of ridicule. On Republic Day, it remained too prostate to discharge its ceremonial duties. Mother again indicated that its crumpled form would suit the dustbin best, and that a new flag would be a better adornment. Yet it seemed sacrilege to obey my mother. The flag was returned to the drawer.

At some point of time, it must have been secretly consigned to the rubbish heap, for I can no longer find it. As another Independence Day approaches, it leaves me with a burning feeling of part guilt (of irresponsibility) and part resistance. How do we relate to our flag, if we relate to it at all?

2 Comments:

Blogger Anil said...

came here through Caferati after reading your comments to John's piece on typos...

interesting piece this, however, I could not help but notice quite a few typos in this piece....perhaps my senses were heightened after having read your comment...

and to try and answer your question...a flag is a symbol...it is the symbol which gives it any meaning...so if you disrespect a flag does it mean that you disrespect the country? I'd say no because afterall the flag is only a symbol...don't know if I made any sense?

3:02 PM, August 17, 2005  
Anonymous Sujit Patwardhan said...

Nice design. Haven't gone through the writing, but knowing you, I'm sure it will be good. Will add comments after I go through more..All the best.
--
Sujit

2:53 PM, September 12, 2005  

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