The New Free Indians …

July 19, 2009

My parent’s generation were the among the first to experience Free India. Though the rule of the English came to an end, the problems were far from over as we all know. The partition happened. People lost their land, loved ones got seperated, identity crises, the wealthy became poor and the poor became more miserable. Our once filled-to-the-brim coffers rang hollow. Disease was rampant. The whole country was trying to get back to its feet.

My folks were born a few years after India got her freedom. Their early years were hard. Money was just about enough to feed all their brothers and sisters. My dad has 7 siblings and mom 5 – so it is a huge family. After saving whatevere annas (The Indian Penny) that could be spared, my grandfather decided to send my dad to medical school. I had once asked my dad, what made you join the medical field. His answer was put so simply – my dad told me to. He explained back then each child took up a field which could be afforded at that point of time. So dad was packed off to Armed Force Medical College in Pune, Maharastra. The education was free if a student is medically fit to join the armed forces. Unfortunately, my dad was not. Hence he had to pay the full fees which was hard for his parents, but they managed somehow.

It is getting difficult for me to continue. I am so regretful of my ungratefulness. Can hardly see the keyboard. All the hurtful things I said to you, I wish I could take them back and shower you with rose petals instead. I wish we understood you better when you needed it.

Yesterday, I was speaking to my sister and she happened to tell me an old story which broke my heart. The holidays were not announced days in advance when dad was a student. They were told at the last minute. So there was no way they could reserve train tickets. All they could do is take a ticket which allows you to only sit on the train and board whichever one going in the desired direction. Β Thats what my dad was going to do too – only the train had already started moving. Desperate to get on it, my dad ran towards it and jumped on the doorway only to see the passengers inside slam the door on his face! It was crowded inside and they did not want more people in it. There he was hanging on to the door of a moving train. Till they stopped at the next station after one hour.

Thinking about it horrifies me. Just so that the money he spent on the ticket won’t go waste, my dad clung to the moving train. I thought of all the times I went – I want this, I want that, This is no good etc. My dad wasn’t one Β to utter Β “You guys are lucky, if you were in my generation …”, he worked hard to fix our little no-issue worries. I now wonder, where did he get that amazing grace to put up with our trivial issues when he knew we were in the lap of luxury? When he knew how it felt to be uncertain of next day’s meal, he understood our craving for Krackjack which wasn’t there in the store that we visited? When he knew how it felt to have to struggle for every bare necessities in life, he indulged us our excesses?

Life wasn’t easy for any of our folks. Yet they ensured all of us are where we are. We owe it to them not to take our present lives for granted. God bless the “New Free Indians” for bringing us to where we are.


15 Responses to “The New Free Indians …”

  1. Sachin said

    I completely agree with you. Our parents have made sacrifices we can never imagine, without trivialising that fact; I feel (I know) that when life is treating you bad, you don’t just stop or live in that moment, wondering, thinking about your own situation and feeling bad for yourself because you are too busy fighting the fight to regain control .. to standup again and dust yourself off .. Basically, what I am trying to say is whenever you are going though these situations you don’t realise how bad it is till its all over and you have moved on and then look back at it and that the beauty of life .. Hey, thats my 2 cents .. You don’t have to agree πŸ™‚

    Your “two cents” packed quite a punch! πŸ™‚ It makes sense, and that is exactly how people come out victoriously from their fights. But one does feel bad when loved ones struggle, isn’t it?

  2. Ebullient Goof said

    I believe that when parents have missed out on things in their lifetime,they are more than understanding and willing to fulfill their children’s wants. That is what parental affection is all about. As for us, we are quite the spoilt brats aren’t we?

    Thats what I think too Goofy Mumma

  3. ajcl said

    lovely lovely write up, ash..
    those were tough times indeed.. and all the hardships our parents went thru.. hats off to them really..

    Thanks Appu. It was really painful to write though.

  4. Oh that is so touching and so good that you remind us… my Mom was born in 1948 a year after the independence… and yes it goes without saying how these people lived.. and how they gave us so many things…

    I dont know my Mom would run our family in 6K a month… and yet we three bro’s sat in planes and could claim to have visited taj mahal hotel, long vacations, best clothes and toys etc…

    How they managed is beyond me…

    It is beyond my imagination too.

  5. drnarayannayak said

    Dear ,
    Thanks for the nice note on us the parents . this is what parents are made of not just me or other human beings but universally all living creatures.
    I always feel that struggle of life is like a sumptious saddya(meal), all the challenges are the spices,pickles and papads and the success and the offsprings are the dezerts sweets and the ice screams.Mother and myself thouroughly enjoyed every bit of the tough days.
    It is with the idea that the children should not go through all the hell that we made a few sacrifices for you , as our parents did for us ( they lead a life at an even worse time ). But at the same time we wanted you all to be ready for the wicked world and hence we used to mention about the past.We thought this way you will be able to cultivate austerity in your life and also rever the elders in the society all in general for what they have done for the next gen.Today seing your blog I feel we have achieved our aim to some extent.
    By the way Armed Forces Medical college is in Pune and not in Udaipur as mentioned.The train journeys were like that because we had only 7-10 days holidays each 6 months and 3-4 days were to be spent in the train.Such Journeys were very common those days for most of the people.Even Sleeper class was not availble and we could not afford 2nd or 1st class accomodation ( there was a popular affordable 3rd class) we all patronised.

    Its true parents always desire the best for their children. Its just that it is much easier than before to provide for kids. Sorry for the goof up on location of AFMC. Will correct it. πŸ™‚

  6. drnarayannayak said

    I would like to add futher that for the hardships in our life in the later years after Med graduation , we only are responsible. We were selfish , yes we wanted to have a smoother time in the oldage than a cushy and luxurious one in the youth . We tightned the belt for our needs and did not let you feel the pinch .We saved judiciosly and today I can say we will be comfortable in our oldage at least financially.We however continued charity as were advised by our parents and other elders,to ensure a peaceful spell after we depart to eternity.I made this comment because nobody will believe you regarding our plight even after a nice education in the best of med.colleges.

    And another correction , I could not utilise the free education since I was not medically fit for the defense services. and I paid my fees like all other students in those days, for which my parents made more sacrifices and later my elder brothers also shared the burden. Needless to say that I was not allowed to serve in the Forces.

    Again you both don’t have to feel bad for you behaved very well and your demands mostly were within our reach and we enjoyed every bit fullfilling them. Except the air travel like your friends who were children of co officials. And I used to set very high academic standards for you instead of denying.

    Thanks for all the corrections, Appa. I will incorporate the changes. As for air travel, you know how I feel about them now dont you?? I prefer the train any day!

  7. Amitha said

    Yeah, its been pretty selfish on our part (though innocently) to have put forth all those demands. But all I’d liked to say is that I hope that our gen understands how much the new free Indians have loved us to do all that they did. And that someday when its our turn to do it, we do it with all our heart.

    Yes Pinks. Innocent as our demands were then but it sure does makes me feel bad.

  8. Hiya hun… x Stopping by to thank you for your visit and comments… Hugs Carole xxx

    Hi there Carole, it was fun reading your poems. πŸ™‚

  9. Swaram said

    What a post! Probably we hardly think from that angle.
    The incident where he clung to the train .. how much they valued money then .. we really need to take a leaf out of their books.

    My dad used to work n study llely n has really struggled to come to this position today what after having lost his father when he ws in school itself 😦
    Thanks for helping us realize all this πŸ™‚

    Yes, money is like water of the 80s – free flowing and free! πŸ˜‰ Thanks for your comment.

  10. […] The New Free Indians … Β« The Thoughtful Train […]

  11. le embrouille blogueur said

    Very true ….. I send my salutes to Dr.Nayak on his reference to the “meal” example … how very true … no matter how much we try we cannot make up for the sacrifices our parents made … great post !!!

    Thank you so much LEB! πŸ™‚ We are in an awesome place now thanks to what our parents did for us.

  12. Ramesh said

    Oh, a super post. Its posts like this that define the thoughtful and sensitive you – a thoughtful train indeed. Your father’s response was equally so – maybe it runs in the family !

    These are the things that define parenthood. Willingness to sacrfice so that children may have a better life. Its the most noble of human thought. Every generation, I think, does it and no doubt, you’ll do so for the generation to come. Meanwhile a salute to our parents, as you have so movingly done, is so merited.

    Your comments never fail to make us smile. πŸ™‚ Thanks so much Ramesh. Yes, every parent will always look out for his/her child and make sacrifices wherever needed. Its just that parents of today have it easier because we are way more financially stable thanks to the hard decisions that our folks had taken. πŸ™‚

  13. Savitha said

    Great post,Ash!!
    My friend once commented-“The previous generation, which happened to be the first generation after independence are the most sacrificial generation”. How true? Not only did they sacrifice for our sakes, for their own siblings sake, too! Incredible!! And thanks for writing on this…It is a reminder of how grateful we need to be….

    Thank you Savi! πŸ™‚

  14. K. said

    Wow, this is a very touching tribute to your dad! I really enjoyed reading it…I feel the same way about my parents…thanks for sharing…

    Hey there K, welcome to my blog! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment. πŸ™‚

  15. balasrini said

    Gr8 Post !

    Ur post just kindles me to think about the difficulties every parent would have come through to fulfill the wishes of their children..

    Many times they would not share the difficult times and the sacrifices that they went thru… They dont want us to know it… they just want us to enjoy the joy n happiness ripened out of their sacrifices… May be this is wat parenthood is..

    Hi Balasrini! Welcome to my blog. πŸ™‚ Yes, most parents keep a lot of their sacrifices a big secret. This is one facet of parenthood. πŸ™‚

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