Friday, August 14, 2015

Remembering Early Independence Days

Hafsa Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
A boy waves a Pakistani flag in celebration of the country's Independence Day.
By Hafsa Ahmed
Junior Reporter
LAHORE, Pakistan – Compared to the lively Independence Day celebrations now taking place in Pakistan, the simpler, earlier celebrations of Independence Day carried more meaning, according to one man who remembers.
“I used to get up bright and early in the morning,” said 88-year-old Muhammad Mohsin.
“The first thing I did was to switch on the television and watch the Pak Army’s honorary parade. They would play the national anthem and tributary hymns too, and I loved to listen to them and sing along. The rest of the day was spent with friends, eating and enjoying together, decorating the roof and walls of our houses with little paper flags. It used to be beautiful.”
When Pakistan was formed 68 years ago, its diverse people stood united under a green and white flag, the emblem of peace and tolerance. They had shed sweat and blood as one, to achieve a singular goal: freedom.
Amenah Shabbir / youthjournalism.org
Muhammad Mohsin, 88, remembers
the Independence Day celebrations
of his youth.
This unmediated encounter with adversity only made love of country stronger for those first Pakistanis. It radiated, this love, when the people came together as a single, to celebrate their patriotism each year on the 14th of August.
When asked about his feelings on Independence Day, in the wake of the tragedies that had befallen his people in 1947, Mohsin was ambivalent.
“I was happy and sad at the same time,” said Mohsin. “Happy, more so. We finally came to live in a place where we could do things, say things, without anyone imposing on us. It was gratifying, this new-found freedom.”
There is no doubt that over the years, Independence Day celebrations have seen a marked change. They are bigger, aesthetically pleasing and more jubilant than ever.
“But they lack the simple honesty and genuineness that we had back in my time,” said Mohsin. “The events of 1947, and the prior years, were still fresh in our mind. We had experienced the loss first-hand, had paid the heavy price of an independent nation ourselves. It made us appreciate Pakistan in a way today’s generation never can.”
Furthermore, he added; “Over the past few years, the country has been plagued with disastrous floods in the month of August, among other political issues. That leaves everyone perturbed and disoriented and simply unable to recognize the day of 14th August for what it truly signifies.”
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