A 30 Year-Old Independence Day Poem


SUGAR LAND: Personal independence was a sentiment that was very much on Saeed Pathan’s mind when he penciled this poem 30 years ago when he thought of the independence of his country India which had just turned 40. Pathan, had just finished his mechanical engineering degree from the Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology in Surat, Gujarat. Zail Singh was President, Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister.

He was overcome with a feeling of freedom but conflicted by the state of the country and penned this poem as it came to him. He bared the emotions the time evoked and he shared the poem with his family and friends. He then put it aside and forgot it in among other papers and books in his house, some of which traveled with him when he came to the US in 2002. He was in Lafayette, Louisiana before moving to Houston in 2007.

Now, 30 years later, Pathan found the poem once again and remembered how it made him feel. With similar conflicting events swirling around the world these days, he decided this time to share the poem with a larger audience and so … here it is. An ode to Independence and what it means to him, in the original Hindi and with an English translation.

Text by Jawahar Malhotra, Poem and translation by Saeed Pathan