My fascination with a parade

My fascination with a parade

Republic Day often brings back memories of school march pasts

A marching contingent of Delhi Police during the 72nd Republic Day parade at Rajpath, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Credit: PTI Photo

Whenever I watch our military and police personnel conduct the march-past on Republic Day at in New Delhi, I become nostalgic of my childhood, when my fascination with such a parade began. Those were the early years of our country’s when independence and patriotism ran high. A much-revered person in my nondescript village called Sojat Road, in Marwar region of Rajasthan, used to play patriotic songs on a loud-speaker from early morning on every Independence and Republic Day. I presume that even on that Republic Day in 1956, the day I was born, the sound of those songs might also have descended into my tender ears.

We had a primary school and a kilometre away, a secondary (we called it ‘high’) government school. Big events were held twice every year in the high school on both the national days. Clad in impeccable uniform, all students, split into seven contingents, presented an impressive march-past in sync with the sound of drums to salute the tricolour. After the conclusion of the function, the parade reassembled and then traversed through the two-kilometre-long main bazaar, where waiting bystanders showered flowers and slogans reverberated.

Preparations for this programme commenced two weeks ahead at the high school. The feeble sound emanating from the drum beats at the daily rehearsal captivated me no end at the primary school. I had high hopes that we would also be taken to the high school to see the event. But on the D-day, to our dismay, we were simply herded to a nearby street corner on the parade route. As the drum beats drew closer, there was ebullience all around, and all I could steal was just a sketchy glimpse of the long procession.

It was only after graduating to the high school that my long-cherished dream of watching the parade closely for the first-time, nay even participating in it, got fulfilled. The spectacle of students marching in mechanical precision kept me enthralled. A boy named Chandu, three classes senior to me, who was dexterous at playing the snare drum at the parade (the other was a bass drum), caught my envy and soon became my guru. Dreaming to reach to his level, I got my own sticks chiselled by a carpenter and started practising at home, doubling up my study table as a snare drum!

Eventually, when Chandu graduated out from the school, the job of playing the snare drum was mine for the asking. Until, of course, my own graduation!