The Tricolor On The School Shirt

Picture By Arushi Rawat

Wearing the white uniform, And a small tricolor flag on the pocket of the shirt, I rocket out of home to catch the school bus. Sitting on the seat I adjust The flag once again, With shiny eyes and An overwhelmed heart. It's the day for the special assembly, I tell myself. National song followed by the school prayer. The school prayer that teaches unity in diversity, the fair and the unfair. Patriotic skits and monologues,

The plays and the dialogues. The school stands together with

Heads turned towards the sky, Singing the national anthem. As I open my eyes, I realize, What a lovely dream it was. Noticing the morning dew, And grabbing the newspaper, The heart sinks with the headlines Of the new world we've been put through. The mind explodes with the thoughts of What were we promised and What have we come to. The lessons of unity in diversity Transforming into religious riots, The lessons of patriotism and the fight for the right Camouflaging with nationalism and extremism alike. Exploiting school syllabus, Making one stand against the other Shutting dissent, Fighting mosques and mandirs, Flying corrupt bankers, What else but, Buying the anchors. I wonder.. What were we promised And what have we come to.. January 26 reminds me Of the beauty of secularism Blended into the constitution, But also the laws and the rights, Introduced and denied, To one's own Propaganda and preference.