Dressed in green and white for the Independence Day celebrations in children’s school, I felt strongly patriotic. As I had ironed my clothes the night before I had felt strangely happy. A happiness which is hard to describe, a happiness that we all feel when we celebrate the National Day.
Of all the things that I missed when away from home this was what I had missed the most. As 14 August approached the city has gone festive, there are street vendors selling flags every where. I missed seeing my green flag. The radio plays the national songs. I missed the national songs. I missed singing the songs as they were played on the radio. I missed my national anthem. I missed the immense sense of pride that I felt when I heard it.
My homeland, the place of my birth how precious you are. My motherland I love you.
I stood in the school auditorium hall as the children from grade Nursery to Class Six gathered noisily with their Teachers. The excitement in the hall was contiguous. The day started with the National Anthem. We all stood up for it.
For all my years as a school student I had sung the National Anthem every morning. I loved the sound of it. The following is the text of Anthem. The translation is mine and may not be exact but does convey the broad meaning.
Pak sarzameen shad bad
Pure and scared land – stay blessed with prosperity and happiness
Kishwar-e-Haseen shad bad
The land of beauty – stay blessed with prosperity and happiness
Tou Nishaan-e-Azm-e-aali shan Arz-e-Pakistan
Symbol of high resolve – the Land of Pakistan
Markaz-e-yaqeen Shad bad
Centre of faith – stay blessed with prosperity and happiness
Pak sarzameen ka nizaam Qouwat-e-Akhouwat-e-Awam
The strength of this holy land comes from the strength of the brotherhood of its people
Qaum mulk saltanat
The nation, country and state
Painda tabinda bad Shad bad Manzil-e-murad
May your light last forever – stay blessed with prosperity and happiness – you are goal of our aspirations
The flag of the star and the moon
Leader in progress and perfection
Representer of the past, pride of present and life of the future
Stay in the shadow of God Almighty
I joined in with the children singing the anthem – my heart swelled with pride and my eyes welled with tears.
In the hall all I saw were flags waving. The children moved the small flags as powerfully as their tiny arms could. They swayed to the melodies national songs and sang in chorus. The function ended with a prayer for the prosperity of the country.
As I left the Auditorium, I walked very slowly to the gate. My thoughts were clouded. My heart filled with emotions. My land my motherland I am truly a part of you. My motherland I deeply love you. The smell of you is what defines home for me.
I was reminded of a conversation with my Grandfather. He said that the land you are born on has a peculiar smell. A smell in the air that is unique and can never be found anywhere else. It is this smell that makes you feel at home.
As a child I couldn’t fathom what my Grandfather said but today I can truly appreciate his words.
As I drove home I thought about Patriotism. We don’t choose the land we are born in but why do we love it so deeply? When we meet people during travel we proudly tell them our nationality, be it Pakistani, Singaporean, British, German, Australian, Russian, American, or Indian. Everyone that I had met told me where they were from with pride. Many even though they had changed their passports but they still identified with their motherland. Why are we drawn to our motherland? Why do we identify with it? Why are we Patriotic?
I googled this very question. The dictionary describes Patriotic to mean to support or identify with ones country. From all the articles that I read I gathered that “Patriotism” is an innate human sentiment. Scientific research points out that the factors that make us patriotic are in our very genes.
They are the part of our deeper subconscious drive towards group formation and allegiance. Group bonding is also in our evolutionary history and in our nature as humans.
My Grandfather had described it as a smell of the land that you can feel in your bones a smell that penetrates in to your heart into your soul. A smell that is home. I am home now. I have no words to describe what coming home means. It can only be experienced.