As 15 August approaches, I look at framed photos of my father, an Air Force pilot who valiantly fought three wars for the country. I remember him exhorting me to sing the National Anthem... just a little louder and with more heart in it.
I think of what India means to me. It's quite simple. India is oxygen to my soul.
My sceptical friends point out to me that I am blind to all the faults in the country and I don't see the difficulties of doing business in India versus the rest of the world, but I do, I really do. It's just that I feel India is like my mother, and so what if you don't have the coolest mother in the world? It's like in school you always feel the other person's mom is cooler and you go home and tell yours, "Mummy, next time, please just don't wear bright prints when you come to pick me up from school, and could you maybe wear nicer sunglasses like Diva's mom?" But that doesn't mean I love Diva's mother more.
Or maybe you do have the coolest mother in the world and don't appreciate her enough because you are too busy magnifying her smallest of faults.
Sure India has its problems but which country doesn't?
At least I am free to speak my mind and debate and discuss what is going on in my country, whether it is with my fellow Indians over a cup of coffee or taking to social media to express consternation about the ban on porn. The free press is a constant reminder of my freedom of speech which is enshrined in our Constitution -- one of the longest written Constitutions of any sovereign country in the world and widely acknowledged as one of the best there is.
Sometimes my love story with India does flag when I travel abroad and I think of all that is wrong with my country, with its large population bursting at its seams, the constant cacophony of noises, the potholed roads, the corruption, the disrespect for the Armed Forces, the smarmy politicians and I do think of emigrating but those moments are short lived and when I am back, I fall right back in love with India.
I just want to be a part of India even if it is an unrequited love. I'm sorry, I can't be one of those people who endlessly criticise the country only to show their "intelligence". I'm open to healthy debate and discussion, but like a true fauji's daughter, I'm just hopelessly patriotic and shamelessly in love with my country.