I stayed off the celebratory Independence Day posting this year. It felt hypocritical, when every time I close my eyes, I see Noor’s face – a person I didn’t know but a person who’s face I will never forget. 

My heart still aches for that 8-year old Hindu boy, who was charged with blasphemy, and imprisoned for a week. Eight Years Old. Now, his family has fled the city once the child was released on bail. I have a 6 year old nephew, and the thought of how easily things can go wrong sends shivers down my spine.

I don’t feel free anymore. I feel scared, crippled, and imprisoned. Like I were in a dark box, tightly clasped, where no amount of screaming gets me any help. I cannot look away from the regressive pattern, and I know many, many, many people are hurting right now. I see you. I am with you.

Did I tell you how this one time, I couldn’t step out of the car at 12:25am to go to the pharmacy to get medicine for my extremely sick nephew. My ailing dad did, who couldn’t see very clearly as it was dark. He stumbled through his way to the pharmacy, while I sat in the car, looking out, seething inside. I am not free. I am not independent. Azaad?

I am not ungrateful for the efforts that got us this land. I truly am not. But somewhere along the way, from 1947 to 2021, we seem to have lost the way. The principles that this land was established on are now tainted with unaccountable privilege,  religious fanaticism, and blood-curling power abuse.

But I am still hopeful. This is how love works. I am still hopeful. I need reassurances from the people in power and law enforcement agencies, yes, but I am still hopeful. May the next Independence Day be lighter, cheerful, and without blood splashes and cries of agony.

Azadi… apko mubarak. Next year, I hope and pray, I can wish the same to myself as well.