My fondest memory of 14th August

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Photo: Muhammad Noman

My fondest memory of 14th August is from the years all of us cousins would get together at our house in Lahore. We had a tradition where on the 13th we’d go drive through Lahore admiring the streets all lit up by colorful light. I remember all five, sometimes six, of us squishing into my Mamoo’s Mehran heading towards liberty right after Maghrib. All the buildings and shops would be lit up, most of them in green and white lights, while some would add all the colors of the rainbow. Some buildings such as the State Bank or Wapda house would have the lights form the Pakistani flag which looked amazing! The drive was always very exciting with all of us trying to decide which building was our favorite.

Once we came back we’d plan an Independence Day show for the next day. I would usually prepare the script for a small dramatic performance we’d have that ended up having a moral lesson for all, something along the lines of “Don’t litter,” or “Be kind to each other” etc. The younger ones would practice two or three milli naghmas, if we were feeling rather ambitious they’d also be a speech about why celebrating Pakistan’s Independence Day was important and a game show for the adults.

The next morning as soon as we’d wake up, we’d all go to the terrace where the show would mostly take place and first hoist our big Pakistan flag, then decorate the rest of the terrace with smaller flags, stickers, lights and candles. After sun down all the adults would come to the terrace for the show that was ready to go, with cups of chai in their hand, half amused and half eager to see what we’d prepared for them. We’d start of the show with a recitation of the Quran and then continue with the rest of the performances. The drama, speeches, milli naghmas, game shows would happen with the backdrop of a very amazing Biriyani being prepared in the kitchen. After the show the adults would all express their pleasure and appreciation at our hard work and presentation and then we’d have a richly prepared dinner.

My favorite part of the day was when after dinner just us cousins would go to the terrace, put on milli naghmas on the stereo and wind down. Even though the milli naghmas were pretty loud, no one would object, we like to think that the neighbors enjoyed the celebratory atmosphere too.

We’re now in different parts of the world, and our 14th August celebrations aren’t that elaborate any more. But I do miss celebrating 14th August together as a large family. The energy and enthusiasm was contagious and the pride we felt for being Pakistani was one of the highlights. As adults, I feel a certain cynicism creeps in, where amidst the problems that plague our country, we feel like celebrating Independence is pointless. But I quite disagree, I think children in any case should be encouraged to celebrate and be proud of their home country so that they can build a sense of ownership, love and responsibility towards Pakistan.

On the other hand, as adults, I don’t believe we should stay indifferent to the occasion, instead it should be a day where we remember the sacrifices and hardships our ancestors faced to get us a country of our own, and reflect on what we as individuals are doing and can continue to do to contribute to the dream our forefathers saw and struggled for. With hopes that we will continue to be proud of our country and do our part as responsible citizens, Happy Independence Day to all!

By Sameen Mohsin


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