It was a family get together yesterday over dinner and we had the usual talk, about 'many things', including cabbages and kings. The youngest in the group, a thirteen year old, was heard explaining to the oldest in the group, the 83-year-old sister of mine, what he had said in a recent discussion held in his school, on Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. The boy was explaining to the wonderstruck sister of mine, how our country is poised to celebrate the 75th year of her independence and how our National Flag can now be unfurled in every house.
The Flag is now close to, a part of, every house. The school children who saw a VIP on the high pedestal at a distance unfurling the Flag on special days, can now themselves touch, feel and even hoist National Flags in their house. I could feel the pride in the child’s tone wile he was saying these words. The Flag no longer would be formal, institutional and ceremonial; it would be extremely personal. The boy even said that Flag was now available for sale in the neighbourhood post office.
The post office was just 200 yards away from our home and my brother suggested that the next day both of us could walk down and buy a few Flags for use. I remembered Taufik. I knew him. He works in neighbourhood Post Office. He was the one who stood out as someone most excited, most cheerful and most active among his half a dozen colleagues from the post office who had turned up with a Letter Box in the morning some years ago. I had requested the Chief Post Master General (CPMG) to provide a Letter Box in our locality so that the Millennials would start writing letters by hand, and even the still older ones in our locality, could resume the old practice. The children not yet into their teens would not know what a Post Box is like and how to use it.
I had even offered a space on my compound wall facing the road where the Post Box could be fixed. The kindly CPMG had obliged and the Letter Box was fixed. I wrote a ‘Thank You’ letter to the CPMG and had goosebumps while dropping the letter into the Post Box. The half a dozen staff from the Post Office witnessed the inauguration, clapped and took a few photographs. But Taufik was the one who promptly opened the lock and took out the letter from the Letter Box and put it in his Letter Bag to be despatched to the important addressee. He and I bonded well from that day. I had now a friend in the post office. I felt more empowered and comfortable. It is another matter that the Letter Box has not received the second letter till now. But the school children going to school by the lane still look at it with interest. Even my younger grandson promises to write a letter to his friend in Bangalore and drop it into the Box.
Yesterday I needed Taufik's help and so I rang up. He not only confirmed that National Flag was indeed available in post office for Rs 25, but described its dimension as well and was eager to know if I would visit and buy one. I confirmed; he said they all would wait and take a photograph when I bought a Flag from them.
This morning when I was about to reach home after a long walk, he closed in from behind on a bike and asked me again if I would visit the post office and buy a Flag. I confirmed; he said again that they would have a photograph. I smiled and said I shall take my brother with me as well. Both would buy.
He was ecstatic. His mood made me think. Taufik, born years after India became Independent, is in a festive mood. They, in post office are selling National Flag for the first time. Taufik told me how all employees in the post office were jubilant over the new task. I remember my Principal in Ravenshaw College, Dr Sadasib Misra, who, in his Independence Day address to us, had hoped that students would soon celebrate the Day as a festival like they celebrated Ganesh Puja and Saraswati Puja. That was 62 yrs ago. His prophecy was coming true.
True, it has taken long years. Yet, there is now celebration in the air. Country is celebrating its Flag and countrymen, their freedom.