15 August 1947 – India gains independence from British rule. 64 years ago, Jawaharlal Nehru said, “Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes… At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and Freedom.”
I may be South African in the definitive sense, I was born here, I’ve lived here all my life, I have a South African accent and passport, I call it a braai, not a barbecue and I have an undeniable love for this country, but a piece of my heart lies firmly in India. It lies in the aromas of the land, the smell of bhel puri and pav bhaji around every corner. It lies in the chaotic markets in Santa Cruz and Colaba, bargaining for jewelery in broken Hindi. It lies in an auto rikshaw scurrying through the traffic, fearless and fun. It lies with family in Mumbai, Akola and Kerala. It lies in a houseboat, traveling down the backwaters. It lies on the streets, sipping the sweet juice from a coconut. It lies in the hustle and bustle of a Punjabi wedding, doing bhangra to the latest music from Bollywood. It lies with the victims of the terrorist attacks, it lies in the shadow of the Taj hotel. A piece of my heart has firmly rooted itself in the magic of India, embracing all the culture, all the religions, bewitching just this piece of me away from South Africa, intoxicating me with its exoticism.
This independence day, I thought to myself, forget about the corrupt politicians, the rampant inequality that plagues India, the ongoing religious conflicts but rather, let me think about all the things that I love about it. All the reasons that I’m proud to be Indian, to have such a rich heritage that can only be defined as magic. Happy Independence day. Jai Hind.