We Know What You’ll Do This Independence Day


We Know What You’ll Do This Independence Day

Illustration: Saachi Mehta/ Arré

August 15 (version 2019.0) has chosen to be kind to us – this time, by falling on a Thursday, the only De we hate more than Shobhaa.

Some people already know how they will celebrate their Independence Day, as is evident from reports that Goa – the country’s favourite party destination after Arvind Kejriwal’s Twitter mentions – has been booked out. Obviously, these are the rich people. You know, the kind who spot Smriti Irani at a Starbucks and deduce that she is “just like an ordinary Indian”, even as the ordinary Indian shamelessly nibbles at one McAloo Tikki for three hours in order to enjoy the air-conditioning.

While the rich will spend the I-Day weekend satisfying their #wanderlust, the poor will carry on with their work as usual for the sake of their #foodlust. This is because they give as many fucks about holidays as a beauty pageant finalists do to world peace.

But what about the middle-class?  How will people like me, and probably you, mark this momentous occasion? The answer is as predictable as the box-office figures of the next fifty Salman Khan films.

To begin with, you’ll wake up to text messages from the thoughtful people who never fail to wish you on a special day – that is, the start-ups from where you order food in the beginning of the month. For example, the only Happy Friendship Day! messages I received were from FreshMenu, Swiggy, and Sarvodaya Pure-Veg Restaurant (#squadgoals).  

Despite repeated efforts by their senders to perfect “newsjacking” (a concept wherein a company likes a news item so much that it jacks off to it and lathers its product in the discharge), these SMSes will have intolerable copy such as: “This Independence Day, free yourself from the shackles of money! Martyr your next 15 shits at the altar of our NEW PANEER-STUFFED PANEERI PANEER ROLLZ BUY NOW 1+1 FREE MIN ORDER RS. 1500 HURRY!!1!”

While the rich will spend the I-Day weekend satisfying their #wanderlust, the poor will carry on with their work as usual for the sake of their #foodlust.

Like a normal millennial, you will then log on to the internet with the intention of plastering the Facebook pages of these companies with the choicest expletives. But before you get to that, you will be seized by an itch to participate in the ongoing “Online Exhibition of Patriotism”, an event otherwise reserved for when India steals the show at the “RSS Presents UNESCO Awards for Most Inconsequential Bullshit”.

Giving in to this urge, you will now craft a DP that somehow incorporates the colours saffron, white and green in it. There are many ways to do this, but I like to go for an au naturale #tiranga look, achieved by wearing a tika (for the saffron), using tons of multani mitti (for the whiteness), and keeping my budding female moustache uncut for once (for a tinge of green).  

Next, you will participate in any of the many independence-themed trends that will doubtless be floated on social media by various stakeholders (such as #BapuJiKoAzaadiDo, by the indefatigable followers of Mr Asaram Bapu). Precisely at this point, you’re likely to begin feeling a bit shallow.

You will now want to celebrate the rest of your day more meaningfully and more patriotically. In a bid to instantly help your conscience as well as India’s poor, you’ll first buy yourself a shiny flag from the most desolate looking person on the street. Once you feel substantially better about life, you’ll bring out the day’s newspapers and dutifully pore over the fascinating spreads on India’s freedom struggle. Reading these will open your mind and make it simmer with questions such as, “so, like, was Bhagat Singh really that woke at 23?” and “can’t I just watch Border instead?”.  

After nine hours of flipping between Rang De Basanti, Chak De India, Airlift, Swades, and Jism (hey, the other channels were on a break), you will at last feel jubilant and teary-eyed with authentic patriotism. This will drive you to compose a final, gushing, heartfelt status describing exactly why you love India. The reasons will depend upon what defines you as a person, ranging from “we’re home to the next Silicon Valley!” if you’re a techie in Bangalore, to “the spirit of resilience of our people” if you’re a house-hunter in Mumbai, to “golgappe” if you hail from Delhi, to “do you know how many hours Modi ji works?” if you’re Anupam Kher.

Finally, as the day closes, you will go to sleep with your heart still thudding with love for the country, your mind still flashing back to the soul-stirring climax of Chak De India, and your genitals still throbbing to the memory of John Abraham, Bipasha Basu, and a dripping cube of ice.

Till next year, when the cycle begins again.