What A Five-Year-Old Knew About The Indian Flag

26/02/2016 8:18 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
evrenselbaris via Getty Images
Grunge Indian flag. Clipping mask used. 'Multiply' used for chakra symbol on the flag.

You remember yourself aged four, carefully picking out crayons from a Camlin set, then checking your choice of shade by squiggling officiously on spare paper in close imitation of your mother trying on lipstick. You remember learning to draw perfect rectangles, seamless deasil circles whose start and finish ate closely at each other, ouroboros-like, and twelve spokes spaced equidistantly around the bisecting centre of a dark blue ring. You remember it took you from age four to five to comprehend that the saffron band went on top and the green one down below, and another year to stop the blue wheel between them from carelessly over-stepping the sacred boundaries of its landing strip of white.

You also remember that your mother never had to ask you to pick your flag-art off the floor, that even as your other multitudinous pieces of artwork flapped and slid in the breeze of the summer fans, a deep innate instinct made you stow your copies of the Tricolour, like roses, like brilliant flat diamonds, between the weighty fronds of Gibbon's Decline and Fall and a Webster's Unabridged. You remember sticking one, sometimes two flags in a cross-armed embrace, behind the steering wheel of the family car every August, and then the following January (you are a March baby, and you count the months thence). You remember your heart beating full of shooting stars when, on those special days, you saw the Tricolour unfurl in the sky, a giant tongue, first green, then white, then orange, then whole, clothing the sun.

[I]nstinct made you stow your copies of the Tricolour, like roses, like brilliant flat diamonds, between Gibbon's Decline and Fall and a Webster's Unabridged.

You also remember your father collecting Tirangas left to die on the streets post-15th and 26th, brushing them squeaky clean, then parking them between the pages of whatever book he was reading.

You remember him having to burn one that was beyond repair when rescued, its blue heart ripped out, saffron-green limbs tarred and near-dismembered.

You remember crying as it smoked, your eyes smarting with chips of burning cloth and anger and a great swallowing sadness.

You feel those yawning tears well up again today as you witness, from a faraway land, the most mindless of media debates ripping your beloved to bits. Words fly left and right, from Left to Right, and you wish they could all only see that the answer is simple enough to be realised by a crayon-wielding child of five.

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