As I stood facing the National Flag this morning, I was consumed by one thought only - will our children, the generation that is evolving at a frenetic pace, seemingly too sure of themselves and therefore rashly neglectful of our 'values', ever feel the surge of love and emotion we feel when we sing the National Anthem? Will that kind of patriotism trickle down to these children who today stood watching their National Flag flutter in the gentle morning breeze?
And as we stood facing the flag in a circle I could not help but notice several parents standing with folded hands, seemingly afraid to mouth the words of the Anthem. "Maybe they've forgotten the words" I thought.
Its possible. Most of us left school uniforms and that environ two decades ago. Some of us can recall every film song sung in praise of our Motherland and every line of the profound and celebrated poem by Rabindranath Tagore that knocks us out every time we mouth the lines - "Where the mind is without fear"....!
But maybe, some have simply forgotten all of it.
"Could be amnesia", I second guessed, when I realised that most of these upper to mid-upper class urban parents must have taken their tiny tots to watch an animation film in a multiplex at least once in their lives? And surely, they must have heard the National Anthem sung before the film? How then could they stand in such (deafening) silence with folded hands feigning amnesia?
Or was it worse than I'd imagined? Was it 'indifference'?
Indifference is the worst state of being. Indifference is debilitating. Indifference to your country, what it stands for, its ethos, its people, its National Flag/Anthem/bird/animal or what have you, is ruthlessly unpatriotic and unbecoming of any citizen who has ever sat in the air conditioned comfort of his office or drawing room and cursed the Indian 'mentality' and everything Indian, all the while, comfortably ensconced under the umbrella of Democracy.
Indifference is unacceptable.
I felt ashamed and wanted to exhort the parents (after the Anthem had ended, of course) - with the flamboyance of Manoj Kumar aka Bharat Kumar, rising up from my seat, fingers pointing at each of them, pompously reminding them of their duty as parents of these young, highly impressionable and engaging minds!
Then I glanced at the children from the corner of my eye and saw them singing the National Anthem with gusto - loud, clear and with passion. Four year olds, five year olds, seven year olds, fumbling at the difficult words but continuing undeterred, eyes never leaving the flag, hands never leaving their sides.
And I felt relieved. Hope raised its sure head again.
With or without the inculcation of values and guidelines from such parents, these children are all set to become the shining stars of our Nation. Our heroes. More power to them! Jai Hind!
PS: I am going to post this on the parents' group website of the school my son goes to, hoping to ignite a few minds, and may be spark a new controversy. Wish me luck!