Who really is Mother India?

Celebrating a day for Mother India got me thinking this year – maybe I have too many grey hair to just enjoy the holiday perhaps. And so does Mother India. She is 70. At least in her current avatar.

And who is she? Is she the just the land defined by the Himalayas in the North and the seas on other sides? Is she just a map full of tall mountains, long rivers, dense jungles, parched lands and desert, clean villages somewhere and dirtiest ones elsewhere? Is she meals on banana leaf, spicy biryani, sweet rosogulla, crunchy papad, creamy payasam, steaming tea, cool coconut water as the exotic Indian recipe books say? Is she mineral deposits, medium and small industries, famous tourist spots, scattered hill stations and palaces as our Social Studies textbooks will have us believe? How does one define a nation?

How does one define a mother? She is not just the name on your birth certificate, not just the loving hands that cradled you, not just the feet that ached every evening after the day’s toil, not just the warm smile that lit up her face each time you actually spoke to her, not just the lines that worry etched on her face. She is also the hand that hit you when you lied, the scowl that followed every wrong word you used, the insistence on you doing your work diligently, the constant reminder to be nice to others, the persistent nagging to be just and fair, the diktat to be a worthy member of the society. She is also the food you grew up eating, the language you grew up hearing, the culture that seeped into the very fibre of your being – whether you knew it or not. She became the mother that you made her to be. She was not born a mother, you made her a mother and you kept shaping her as a mother with your mischiefs, cute acts, success, failure, achievements, learning, faltering, flying away.

And so it is with our mother nation I realize. She is not just the land or the oceans or the national bird or a collection of changing number of states. She is blazing heat, intense cold, thick fog, floating clouds, lush green jungles, majestic landscapes, unending oceans. She is smoggy cities, choked roads, drying and foaming lakes, disappearing birds. She is commerce on steroids, cinema with blinkers on, art with caution, sport of politics or vice versa. She is also the history replete with warriors and sages, kings and emperors, brave women and rebellious children. She has been through a change of heart, change of power, changing culture, changing times for more number of times than years could imagine. Who she is today is what we make her to be. Just like mother. Each one of us is shaping who she is. Just like the way she was shaped by millions before us. It is not my language or yours, not my food or yours, not my music or yours, not my worship or yours that makes her. She is a collective of you and me and billions of us.

It is all of us who give birth to our mother – Mother India – every day through everything that we do.

Happy independence to all!