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At 87, age might have caught up with Mira Chowdhury — her hair sports a shock of white — but her memory remains strong. The octogenarian perfectly remembers celebrating the first Independence day, though she confesses to India Currents that as a 12-year-old, she hardly knew what it meant.
“I was 12 years old when we got our independence from the Britishers. My memory may not be as sharp as it once used to be, but I vividly remember that fateful day,” she reminisces, a little smile playing on her lips.
The Country Celebrates
“I remember all the teachers from our school assembling at my father’s house. They were planning to go to the airport from there. We youngsters kept on wondering what the ruckus was all about, when we were told that today is Independence Day.”
“Suddenly the entire neighborhood started celebrating. Packets of biscuits were shared with all and sundry and we became extremely buoyant with the celebrations. Residents, children, everyone started running around to collect these little packets that were being handed out. Some contained biscuits, others had varied goodies,” she recalls.
“We hardly understood that such a historic moment has come to pass on that fateful day. Youngsters as we were, we just dove into the entire celebrations without a care in the world,” she reveals.
That is not all. One other thing that Chowdhury remembers from that day is seeing were the freedom fighters from the area moving in big trucks. People all around heaped garlands upon them and paid respect for the massive feat they had achieved.
Septuagenarian Soumendra Nath Gupta was born a few months before Independence Day. He was just a bawling baby when India charted a new future for itself. But as a youngster he would hear his father Dr Nripendra Nath Gupta and grandfather Nagendra Nath Gupta speak about the day.
Thrust Into Freedom
He recalls, “To them, 15th August 1947 was a day of great awakening. There was a sense of fear permeating through the atmosphere, but also a general sense of excitement.”
Gupta remembers his father telling him how the entire nation beamed with pride when the clock struck midnight and India was thrust into freedom. However, fresh from the ravages of war, partition, and countless deaths, there was a sense of dread at what the future might dole up as well.
“My grandfather would make me sit on his lap and recount stories. ‘Gupe’ he would call me. And once he spoke about how everyone had rushed, in disbelief at the town square on the eve of independence to finally feel what it meant to be really free,” he reveals to India Currents.
Subhash Chandra Bose
Stories like these are fast fading in our ever evolving world. As years progress, events of that day become just pages in the books of history. The euphoria fades out of collective conscience, remaining hidden within the crevices of the few who witnessed it.
Growing up, a friend of mine would often hear stories from his grandmother of the great freedom fighters. She had herself seen Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, on multiple occasions, at their palatial Bhawanipore home, hiding from the Britishers, while fighting to give India her independence.
A Home For Revolutionaries
Closer to home, the friend had once recounted how, while returning from a marriage reception, he had encountered a frail old man, bowing his head in reverence at the gates of his century old North Kolkata home. The aged gentleman had recounted how the house witnessed secret meetings of Independence with Dinesh Majumdar, Rishi Aurobindo, Subhash Chandra Bose and others in attendance and was a prime location in the fight for freedom.
Years have passed since that fateful morning which chartered a new history for India, and many who witnessed that fateful day have passed from dust to dust, taking with them memories, that first sense of excitement and sights that we can only fathom.
However, though far and few in number, there are those who witnessed, or were privy to the events of Independence day.
This year is more special as the government of India has organized the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of independence and the glorious history of it’s people, culture and achievements. Since the Mahotsav is dedicated to the people of India, stories like these bring to the fore the spirit of India’s freedom.