Why do you love India? They ask. You have never been abroad. You dont know! they add. It is not just a fad to put this question. It is here to stay. But I know why I love India. I muse silently. Let me tell you why I love India.
My heart races to the shores of Kanyakumari and traverses the scorching hot and moist, rain-laden state of Kerala. It reaches beloved Karnataka, spread on deep red soil with bouts of grass and wild shrubs growing towards a cloudy South-Indian sky. Coconuts and cashew nuts nod their heads in tandem with the mild misty breeze. I travel through the land of the Marathas to the heart of Gujarat, where, every middle class family boasts of an aspiring entrepreneur. Northwards, I move to the cold feet of the Himalayas and into the hub of darkness of deep gorges, wide valleys, dense forests and icy springs. A beam of sunlight suddenly emerges from between two leaves and engulfs me in waves of warmth and love. The wind brings a twitter
of wild birds to my eager ears. I drift southwards with the Ganga to the Sunderbans. The salty air carries the smell of fish, the dark fisher folk and the threat of a dusty tiger lurking nearby. I move to the land of dance: Bharatnatyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi. From the land of temples, Tamil Nadu, I go to the core of India.
In Madhya Pradesh, I feel my heart go thud thud thud….It beats when thousands of soldiers lay down their lives at Kargil and when their widows sob; it beats when terror groups create havoc, when floods hit Mumbai
and when the earth’s surface shakes in Gujarat; it even beats when Sachin is on 99, about to score a century…thud, thud, thud; it beats in synchronisation with a billion hearts when Sunita Williams lands on earth. They are people I have never met. Yet our hearts have met long before we were born. Indian hearts, rooted in common destiny, associated with a thousand-year-old civilisation!
’Why do you love India?’ They ask. ’You have never been abroad. You don’t know’.
’If you had a drunkard of a mother, would you desert her?’ I retort. ’However flawed, one still loves one’s mother. I am not comparing India with an alcoholic. No way! What I wish to say is I love India, not because of our culture, heritage, monuments, values or history. Not even for the sense of belongingness we experience, cradled in her bosom. I love India simply because she is my Mother!’