Shri Ajeet Singh
(We present an article ‘All ‘Reborn’ on the 15th of August!’ written by Shri Ajeet Singh ji, Ex-Director (News), Doordarshan.)
☆ Independence Day Special – All ‘Reborn’ on the 15th of August! ☆ Shri Ajeet Singh ☆
Dr. Subhash Kalra, an 82-year old senior citizen of Hisar in Haryana, celebrates his birthday every year on the 15th of August. A senior citizens’ group , the Vanprastha, gives him the honour of unfurling the national flag at the Senior Citizens Club to mark the occasion.
Last year he wished everybody Happy Independence Day and surprised by disclosing that all his brothers, sisters and cousins also celebrate their birthdays on the 15th of August in different towns they live.
How could that be? Coincidence could be in respect of one or two members being born on a particular day, but about a dozen people born on the same date in an extended family, though in different years, seemed almost impossible.
Dr. Kalra narrated the story behind it .
His family migrated in 1947 from Kamalia town in Pakistan. He was about nine years old and remembers the hardships the family went through in their journey from Kamalia to Lahore and Amritsar.
A very young child, just a few months old, couldn’t stand the heat and humidity of tough rail journey. He died. How to bury his body ?
The family elder, his Tayaji, a freedom fighter, took the dead child in his hands and let it slip into the Ravi as the train crossed over the river bridge.
The extended family of about 50 people, young and old, reached a refugee camp in Amritsar. The women were wailing for the dead child.
Tayaji asked all to gather immediately. He announced that nobody will grieve for what they had lost. Rather, all will celebrate what they achieved, the gift of azadi.
He further announced that from then onward everyone would declare and celebrate his or her birthday on the 15th of August. Years of birth would, of course, be different.
Tayaji’s logic was that arriving alive in India in that madness of violence of partition, was a rebirth for everyone.
And everybody has been following his dictates since then.
Tayaji and other elderly people of the family are no more. The children of partition time are now themselves elderly. They recall the incident regarding their birthday every year on the 15th of August.
Dreams of azadi were very intense among the people of the era of the freedom struggle.
Prof. Swaraj Kumari, a retired teacher from the Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, says that she was born about a year before the Independence came in 1947. Her father, a freedom fighter, named her Swaraj as he thought she was gift of God prior to the soon-to-come, azadi that was so much in the air.
Another university teacher, Prof. A.L. Khurana says that the joy of celebrating the Independence Day was very intense in the initial years of post -independence era and has been going down since then. “Early in the morning, an elderly gentleman named Mr. Bedi, would ride a horse and move throughout Hisar city exhorting people to gather at the site of the Independence Day celebrations.
Those were the days.
Happy Independence Day.
© Shri Ajeet Singh
Shri Ajeet Singh ji is a freelance journalist based at Hisar. He retired as Director of News , Doordarshan Hisar in 2006.
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