Love me or die..!

A few years ago, while traveling abroad, I found myself in Austria on our Independence Day. It was August 15th and I knew that back home in India, there would be flag hoistings, and speeches and much celebrations. I found I was quite homesick.
Suddenly an Austrian organisation asked whether I and a group of other Indians would sing the National Anthem on stage. I said yes, I would love to do so. That evening during the programme that had been arranged, I sang the Jana Gana Mana, and as I sang I was filled with such intense love and longing for my country that tears flowed down my face. Later, many Austrians met me while we sat for dinner and commented on my tears, “Yes,” I said, “When I leave my country I start missing her a lot!”
They smiled and said that this happened to them also. As I think about that incident I must tell you that nobody pointed a gun to my head and said, “Love India!”
Nobody told me ,”Stand up and sing the national anthem!” Nobody asked me to shout slogans professing my love for my country. My love came quite naturally. Today, I hear about men and women being beaten up in movie theatres because they did not stand for the National Anthem, elected representatives being suspended because they did not agree to shout a slogan which others felt expressed love for the country, and many other such reasons. But, love for one’s country is nurtured and grows from within. You cannot thrash a man and get him to suddenly be full of love. It certainly doesn’t happen that way.
We are a country of arranged marriages, but such a marriage succeeds when after the arrangement, the bride and groom start falling in love with each other. If the husband on their first day says, “Love me or die!” that will be the end of the marriage. Which means patience and understanding go into the making of love. Nobody can force you to love and this thrashing and suspending will only make one go further into a state of not loving. We need to build an atmosphere in our country where we start loving our country, and this is a job the politicians need to do, instead of spreading hate, distrust and evoking suspensions.
My mind goes back to Austria, I can still feel my tears. I still have tears of love when our National Anthem is played or sung, but will never insist others feel the same. Let us stop forcing others and instead help make the country lovable to be loved..!

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