The Young Patriot

The Young Patriot

How will you recognize this important day? You may be a young patriot who loves participating in march pasts, hoisting the flag, and singing the anthem at school. Then again, you may find different ways to celebrate what resonates with them about Independence Day. However we celebrate the holiday, we must remember not to take this day for granted. That is the crux of today’s story, The Young Patriot, by Mrs. Ebina Cordelia.

The Young Patriot

The school was gearing up for Independence Day. Left – Right, Left – Right, the seniors marched in rhythm towards the flagpole. The younger kids watched as the column passed them in the final leg of practice for tomorrow’s celebrations. The click-clack of the footsteps filled them with awe. Despite the scorching sun, they were doing their rehearsal with great passion.

“There’s something about this, isn’t it? I feel a tinge of pride just watching them. How do they manage the heat, though?” Kishan shook his head in wonder.

“Ooooh, he’s the patriot in our group. He’s feeling proud of the march past!” Abhinav winked at Radha, who was watching with them. “I don’t know how they manage in the heat, either. Are you both coming to school tomorrow?” he asked.

“What kind of question is that? Of course, we are coming!” exclaimed Kishan.

“Yea, but Independence Day is all about hoisting the flag and marching past it. There are no academic classes, right? I have decided to take a break from my daily routine and stay home for the day…. I can stay up late tonight and wake up to new programmes on Television,” giggled Abhinav.

“Are you also planning to take a day off tomorrow, Kishen?” asked Radha.

“Naaaa,” Kishan shook his head.

“Come on!” Abhinav started nagging him

The sound of the school bell interrupted them, and as if it was a signal for the dam to burst, students spilled out of their classes. The ground filled up in no time. Some lined up for the buses on one side, while others stood around in groups. Children ran, shouted, and laughed as they made their way to the gate. Multicoloured flags bordered the ground, fluttering in the hot afternoon breeze. The flagpole stood majestically as if waiting for the next day’s special arrangements. Mr. Arun, the physical education master, was talking to the NCC cadets and volunteers, reminding them of the dress code and all the arrangements for Independence Day.

“Look, Jeni looks so happy! As captain of our school, she will hold the school flag and lead the parade,” said Radha.

“Yes, it’s a big honour,” nodded Kishan. “But this heat is a killer!”

“That’s why we should stay back home tomorrow, I tell you!” Abhinav started.

“Boys! It is Independence Day! The least you can do is show up for the flag hoisting. Besides, it will be early in the morning. It won’t be this hot!” Radha’s voice rose in irritation.

“Okay, patriot! I will try waking up…,” Abhinav let his words trail off when he saw her expression.

The three friends were walkers because they lived near their school. Ignoring the honks of the cars, they slid in between the weaving autorickshaws to get to the other side of the street. The road was jammed as usual.

“Gosh! I am famished. Let’s get something to munch” Kishan looked this way and that.

“Oh, Raju’s always outside our school around this time. Where is he?” Abhinav stood on his toes to look over the cars blocking his view of the pavement. “No sign of him. Maybe, he isn’t coming today.”

The kids made their way to the bus stop and hopped onto the parapet wall. This was their usual place to hang around after school. It was a good spot to people watch as they waited for the road to clear.

“Who is this Raju? Which class is he in?” asked Radha.

“Yeah, our new companion. A pretty cool guy! Raju doesn’t go to our school. He has started to sell peanuts here after his school gets over. We meet him daily and chit-chat with him,” said Abhinav.

Kishan pointed to where a bunch of kids huddled around. “Look! He’s right in the middle of that crowd. What’s he doing?” A thin, tall boy wearing clothes that hung loose was handing something over to the others. The kids got down and made their way to Raju. The boy was giving out small National Flags! A slightly older teen pushed a crumpled note into Raju’s hands.

“No, Sir! I don’t want any money,” Raju smiled and returned the money. “Take it, man” the older boy insisted.

Raju moved back, waving his hand in front of him. “I am not selling the flags, sir. This is my contribution towards Independence Day.”

The three friends watched as kids held out their hands for a flag to pin to their clothes while others got stickers for their vehicles.

“Listen, kid! Why don’t you accept money for the flags?” An elderly woman in a stopped car held out a hand for a flag.

“No, Patti, I do it out of love for my country. Allow me to do it,” said Raju with a smile.

“Raju,” Ahbinav cupped his hand and yelled.

Raju turned towards them. He waved and said, “Give me a minute.. I’ll be there!” He gave out the rest of the flags to kids walking home with their mums, dads, and auto drivers. The kids waved their thank yous.

What on earth was he doing? A while later, a smiling Raju headed their way.

“Hey, all. Sorry, I kept you waiting. Who is this new club member?” asked Raju, pointing to Radha.

“She is our friend, Radha. Where’s your peanut box? No peanuts today, Raju?” asked Abhinav.

“No, not today. I thought I’d do something different for tomorrow.”

“Something different for tomorrow? Why?”

“Independence Day, of course! That’s why I was giving away flags.”

“Yes, but why aren’t you selling the flags? Why give it away for free?” asked Radha.

“That’s a long story! Not too long, actually! When I set up my stall yesterday, a couple of kids were talking about some fancy dress competition for Independence Day. One was going to be Mahatma Gandhi, and the other kid was going as Tiruppur Kumaran. Do you guys know about TIruppur Kumaran?” Raju paused.

“Aaahem,” “Ahem.” The other two boys cleared their throats. Abhinav nodded hesitantly. Luckily Raju did not notice his embarrassment. He went on.

“I’d never heard of Tiruppur Kumaran and had no idea who he was! So, I asked the kids’ mother, and she told me Kumaran’s story. Just think about it. It must have been terrifying to be attacked by the British soldiers, but he wouldn’t give up the flag! And then, when I heard that HE DIED holding the flag, I was so moved!

“Yeah, that’s why he was called kodi Katha Kumaran (Kumaran who protected the flag),” Radha added.

“I was baffled by his love for our country. Today we enjoy freedom because many leaders like Kumaran endured hardships under British rule. The sacrifices of so many leaders paved the way for independence from the British.

I couldn’t shake off the story I’d heard for some reason. What would I have done in his place? What can I do now? How do I contribute something to my country? I went home, had dinner, and was sitting with my homework when it came to me. My neighbour was getting his bag of flags ready when I came home. I grabbed my piggy bank and shook it. There was some money there. I had plans for the money, and the jingle of coins was reassuring. But I decided that my plans could wait and smashed the piggy bank. The coins scattered here and there. I gathered it all and bought as many flags as possible from my neighbour. That’s how I got to distribute the flags today. I may not be an important patriot like Kumaran, but this is one way I can express my love for my country.”

“You told me your daily wage adds to your family meals. You should have sold the flags, Raju,” Abhinav insisted.

“Yes, every paisa and every meal matter a lot to me & my family. But amma saw that this meant a lot to me. Independence Day is a way to remind us of the sacrifices of our brave freedom fighters. Today, I can distribute flags. Who knows, tomorrow, I may do more. I have to make sure I study well for that. Each of us has a role to play,” Raju’s mind was set.

Radha looked at him from the corner of her eyes. His bright smile lit up his face as he talked with confidence. “Some people manage to teach us more with their actions than all those history lessons,” she thought.

Aloud, she asked, “What were your plans for the money? What were you going to do?” 

Raju held up his right foot. His slippers were worn thin by the heel.

“It’s fine! I can save once more,” he shrugged.

“We better get home now. Are you coming over tomorrow?” Kishan asked. There was a flurry of questions before the plans were finalised. They waved to Raju and made their way home.

“We think only soldiers and freedom fighters are patriots. Raju has given it a new dimension,” stated Radha.

The kids parted ways home. Raju’s words lingered on Abinav’s mind. Are only freedom fighters and soldiers patriots? Can’t kids do anything for their country?

“Abhi! Dinner time!” called out Abinav’s mother. After he helped her clear the dining table, Abhi got his white uniform ready. Then he said good night to his parents.

His father hit the pause button. “Wait! You wanted to stay up late, didn’t you? What happened?”

“No, Papa! It will be good to see the flag hoisting with my friends. We’re planning to meet that other boy, Raju, afterward.”

Then he went to his room and fell asleep.

The following day dawned bright and sunny. After a quick breakfast, Abhi he waved to his mother.

“Ma, I’ll see you later.”

At school, the three friends sat together. It was getting hot, but they were too engrossed to notice it. When the drumbeats signalled the start of the march past, Abinav was as eager as the others. The cadets marched past their Chief Guest, who accepted their honour.

The events went by in a blur. The Chief Guest hoisted the flag. The beats began, and the assembled staff and students rose to sing the national anthem. Abhi felt his throat tighten. He knew the others felt that shared sense of pride too. “So, this is what it means to be a patriot. The flag hoisting and singing the anthem can be mindless chores if we allow them to become so. It is up to us to make them symbols of something bigger, like invisible threads that bind us together.” Abhinav swelled with pride when he sang the national anthem. 199313

Click here for other Independence Day Podcasts:

The First Independence Day

75 Years of Independence

The Young Patriot

Share with Friends

Categories
Tags
Adoption 9
Adventure 9
Autobiography 2
Bilingual book 1
Biography 4
Book review contest 2
CBSE 35
Children's Book 2
Children's Day 1
Chinna Thambi 1
Classics 11
colouring 11
Comics 1
counselling 1
Counting book 1
COVID 19 6
dance 1
Delayed milestones 1
Drama 1
Dyslexia 1
Early intervention 1
Education 4
Education in India 20
Educational Testing 1
Emergent writing 2
Expository text Features 1
Expository text structure 2
Fairy Tales 2
Fantasy 39
Festivals of India 30
Fiction 32
Fine motor skills 1
Folktales 1
Ghost Stories 2
Graphic Novel 2
Harry Potter 11
Historical Mystery 1
Hithopadesha in Tamil 19
Horror 2
Humour 20
India 8
Indian Air Force 1
indian festivals 20
Indian Independence Day 2
Indian kidlit 32
Indian states 12
Indian Traditions 1
Interview 2
Learning to read 6
life cycle of a butterfly 1
Lion 2
Masala Fairy Tales 17
mental health 3
Monsoon 1
Music 1
Mystery 4
Narrative Text Structure 1
Navratri 1
Phonics 1
picture book 11
play 1
Poetry 6
Primary Education in India 1
purangkooramai 1
Reading 1
reading challenge 1
Reading comprehension 4
REPUBLIC DAY 1
Sci Fi 1
Screen time 1
Self help 1
Short Stories 3
speech milestones 1
Stories by children 3
Stories from India 39
Tamil Story 38
Text Structure 2
therapy 1
Thirukkural 32
Traditional Indian Games 1
virtual schooling 3
Vocabulary 1
worksheets 35
writing 4
Young Adult 15
Young Writers 20
அன்னப்பறவை-மயில்-போர் 1
அன்னப்பறவை-மயில்கள்-போர் 0
அழுக்காறாமை 1
இந்திய திருவிழாக்கள் 7
ஒழுக்கமுடைமை 2
கொக்கு 1
சிறுகதை 12
தமிழ் கதை 20
திருக்குறள் 29
திருவிழா கதைகள் 4
தீவினையச்சம் 0
நடுவு நிலைமை 1
நீல நிற நரி 1
பயனில சொல்லாமை 2
Follow us on