Inspiration

India Celebrates Her 64th Birthday

We-all-live-in-deeds-not

“What shall I wear?”

“How about that cream-colored saree with the red border, Mi? You have the perfect blouse for it”

“No, Vidya, that cotton saree is a little difficult to manage”

“Then, how about that printed silk mustard colored saree? It is soft and comfortable, Mi”

“Hmm… okay. I’d better prepare my speech”

“You’re so good at extempore, Mi. Don’t bother”

“Never say that, Vidya. Preparation is the key to not being embarrassed”

We both laughed at that. I always found it amusing that my Mom, who could speak anywhere on any topic, always sat with a pen and a notebook to note down points. She believed that failing to plan was planning to fail.  Confidence, she had. Over-confidence, no.

So, a few minutes later, she had her notes ready.

“Vidya, just go through this and tell me what you think”

“It is perfect, Mi.”

“Do you think it is too long?”

“Nah! Barely takes two minutes to read through”

“Oh, but I plan to quote poetry in between”

“What? Not one of Shakespeare’s thirty-stanza things, right?”

I got a playful punch for that. My Mom was very good at reciting poetry. I’d be amazed how she remembered everything. But she had an M.A. in Literature….and taught English. Anyway,

“Don’t be silly. I’ll just quote a couple of lines. I am not going to bore the kids, you know. I don’t believe in long speeches”

“So what are you going to recite anyway?”

“Ha! Surprise!”

Nobody could say she didn’t have a sense of humor.

What was the occasion for this conversation?

My Mom was invited as the Chief Guest of Honor for the Republic Day Celebrations at Vidur’s school on January 26, 2006. Vidur was in the third Grade at the time. We were very excited, of course and were all looking forward to hanging on to her every word.

Finally, the day dawned bright, clear and slightly chilly. Naturally, Mom did not wear what she planned to, because her little pet Vidur insisted that she wear a deep blue silk saree instead and of course she agreed. We set out to school, with Vidur in crisp whites. There, she was ushered to the Principal’s office by a guard of honor.

When itwas time, School assembled, and it was time for the flag hoisting.

Republic Day

Then everyone stood at attention to sing the National Anthem.

Republic Day India

After that, we proceeded towards the stage, where Mom was to deliver her speech. Here it is – I hope you are inspired as much as I am.

Republic Day

Respected Principal, Teachers and my dear friends,

 

I am very happy to be at this gathering with you all today, and I wish you all a very happy Republic Day.

 

Did you know, that Jana Gana Mana was adopted as the National Anthem on 24th January 1950 ?

 

On Republic Day regional identity gives way to national identity. Neither caste, creed nor religion matter. What is predominant is the Indianness of the people. India can become a developed nation only if everyone contributes to the best of his or her ability and capacity.

 

I celebrated my first Republic Day when I was 5 years old…in 1950. Today we are celebrating the 56th Republic Day.

 

Republic Day brings to my memory a very cherished childhood incident in the year 1953..when I was 8 years old, and now my grandson Vidur is 8.

 

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited our school as the Chief Guest. I was selected as the star student of my school that year, and chosen to present a rose to Pandit Nehru. He, in turn, pinned a small flag of India on my uniform. I feel very thrilled to recall this now….as I was fortunate enough to have met the first Prime Minister of India. All the students who were born in 1947 were placed in the formation of the India Map. When Pandit Nehru addressed the students, he said “Dear Citizens of free India, I salute you! Today India is in your hands!”. His words are still ringing in my ears.

 

Thousands of Indians struggled for a free India and had dreams of a peaceful, prosperous and progressive India. They suffered and sowed the seed and today we are enjoying the fruit of their efforts.

 

We all live in deeds, not years. In this context, I recall a poem by William Wordsworth and I would like to share it with you.

 

(I am sorry, I don’t remember the verse she quoted!)

 

Now, the words of the great Rabindranath Tagore, who also wrote our National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana

 

Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been
broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls; …
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit; …
Into that heaven of freedom,
my Father, let my country awake.

 

All the best to you, children….Thank you.

 

JAI HIND! 

This is one of the nicest speeches I’ve ever heard, and she got a standing ovation. Everyone enjoyed it because most of the children knew her as a regular visitor to the school as Vidur’s Grandmother.

After the speech there was a cultural program followed by tea with the Principal. In the course of conversation, Mom was invited to teach at the school for 3 months, as one of the teachers had to go on leave. She accepted and had three hectic months doing what she does best, and loved to do – being a teacher. I am always stunned at how she managed those three months, while being on heavy medication and a renal diet along with all her health issues. She had chronic insterstitial lung disease and CKD.

Yet, she was the most cheerful person to have around.

Smile India

I have so many wonderful memories of my Mother, my mentor and best friend.  I am sad to say that she passed away on Feb 8, 2010 after being rushed to the hospital with a collapsed lung that never recovered, causing internal sepsis. She was on full life support for five days before her heart just stopped functioning. She was 64.

Her love lives. Her students still remember her.

We miss her. Very much. On a daily basis.

There are many versions of India’ s National Anthem, but this one has to be my favorite.

Happy Republic Day!

Thank you for reading.

Love, Vidya

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Terri Sonoda
    January 26, 2013 at 8:11 am

    This was so lovely! I have tears. Happy birthday India!
    Terri Sonoda recently posted…The Thermostat TangoMy Profile

  • Reply
    Keetha
    January 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    What a lovely trek down memory lane!
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  • Reply
    Cathy Taughinbaugh
    January 26, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    What a lovely day. Happy birthday to India!

  • Reply
    Harleena Singh
    January 26, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Happy Republic Day Vidya, proud to be Indians – aren’t we!

    Loved the speech – conveys a lot, and yes – we do live in deeds not years…:)

    That silent National Anthem has always moved my heart right from the time I saw it- touching indeed.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted…Will You Stop OvereatingMy Profile

  • Reply
    Elle
    January 26, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Beautiful Vidya. Mum’s are so precious and yours sounds wonderful.

    Happy birthday India. 🙂

    Love Elle
    xoxo
    Elle recently posted…Are You Using Your Creative Success Mechanism?My Profile

  • Reply
    Betsy/Zen Mama
    January 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    This was a beautiful tribute to India and to your mother. No wonder you miss her. What a lady and so young. Too young to die!! She was 9 years younger than my mom.
    Thanks Vidya!

    PS I smiled a lot today!
    Betsy/Zen Mama recently posted…The Future Is Now… 9 Ways To Live In the MomentMy Profile

  • Reply
    My Inner Chick
    January 27, 2013 at 2:32 am

    *** What is predominant is the Indianness of the people. India can become a developed nation only if everyone contributes to the best of his or her ability and capacity.**

    POWERFUL. Quotable.

    You are your mother’s daughter. HOW beautiful. Xxx
    My Inner Chick recently posted…Distractions, Green Pastures, & Still WatersMy Profile

  • Reply
    Carolyn Hughes
    January 26, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    What a stunning post and a beautiful tribute to your mum! Happy Birthday India 🙂
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  • Reply
    Sandra Pawula
    January 27, 2013 at 1:05 am

    What a beautiful tribute to your mother. She seems like an extraordinary person indeed. I’m very moved by her wisdom: “We all live in deeds, not years.”

    I’m so happy India is free and I celebrate its birthday with you.

    Thank you for sharing so deeply from your memories and from your heart.
    Sandra Pawula recently posted…Free Yourself from the NumbersMy Profile

  • Reply
    Zephyr
    January 27, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Lovely conversation and a great speech, not boring at all as some of the speeches by chief guests tend to be. We have great people living with us, on a daily basis but it takes a lot of love to see that. you had one such person in your mother 🙂
    Zephyr recently posted…Is ‘big fat’ a status symbol?My Profile

  • Reply
    Suzy
    January 27, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Lovely post Vidya. Brought back memories of Republic and Independence Day during my school days in Mumbai. Rabindranath Tagore’s poem is one of my favourites. My late father and I often recited together.
    Suzy recently posted…UBC Day 26 – Six Word Saturday – Not doingMy Profile

  • Reply
    Harshad
    January 28, 2013 at 4:06 am

    Hi Vidya,

    Thanks for sharing a great speech and wish you a belated happy republic day!

  • Reply
    Josh
    January 28, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Between your mother’s speech and the anthem I can’t help but to smile. Simply beautiful.
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  • Reply
    Mayura
    January 28, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Hi Vidya,

    I’m familiar with your national anthem, but love the silent Indian national anthem here 🙂 That’s touching.

    Your mother is one you can really proud of dear 🙂 I can think of mine right now too. She’s not confident enough for a speech though 🙂 I have no words, but we are really lucky to have such wonderful mothers.

    Once I had a teacher and feels similar to your mother 🙂 She’s caring and inspirational too.

    The speech of your mother (Still you have that note?) reminds me of great leaders in the World and recently I’ve read about Abraham Lincoln too.

    Can you imagine the feeling when I read such inspirational thoughts and speeches? 🙂

    Really thanks for sharing Vidya 🙂 You made my day…

    Cheers…
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  • Reply
    Jodi @ Heal Now
    January 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Love this story, your mom is beautiful! I mean is, too.:)
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  • Reply
    Aditya
    January 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    WOW!
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  • Reply
    Purba
    January 29, 2013 at 1:13 am

    What a lovely post, Vidya. Such lovely thoughts. I’m sure, your mother is as proud of you, as you were of her.
    Purba recently posted…The Law will protect womenMy Profile

  • Reply
    Galen Pearl
    January 29, 2013 at 4:30 am

    I can believe everything you say about your mom because of what I know of you. She must have been amazing because you are. Thanks for sharing some of her with us.
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