Memories of the day: What I felt on August 15, 1947

When freedom was so near, yet so far

Poet Sugathakumari   | Photo Credit: S.Gopakumar

My memories of the freedom struggle begin from the days when I was a little girl, first as a witness to a brutal attack on a team of prohibition campaigners by hoodlums of toddy barons, and then of the evening walks with my father (poet Bodheswaran, a leading light of the freedom movement in the then Travancore).

On our evening walks, he would be dressed in khadi and have his Gandhi cap. Whenever we passed the Resident’s Bungalow, the soldiers would glare at us. My father would then say, “This is the British police. Soon, our country will become free. Then the ones who guard these gates will be our people, our policemen. And our flag will fly here.” He would add, “I am not sure if I will be around to witness it, but you will certainly see it.”

I would look intently at the Union Jack fluttering in the wind, with a lot of sadness. I can still recall their stares, their blood-shot white faces. My two friends and I were often called upon to sing freedom songs whenever there was a public meeting, sometimes addressed by leaders of stature such as Acharya Kripalani and JP. We would sing Kadam kadam badhaaye jaa, khushi ki geet gaaye jaa..., Jhanda ooncha rahe hamaaraa... and many other songs.

I was in the Third Form (today’s Class 7) when India became free. I still recall the wild celebration on that day. Also fear, because that was the time when Independent Travancore had been declared, Sir CP (then Travancore Diwan C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer) was recovering after being attacked. The place was full of Sir CP’s ‘Five Rupee Police’, a bunch of hirelings. Fear was contagious. My father was underground. My sister, who was three years older than me, then studying in junior intermediate at the College for Women, and I went to the University College. It was a sea of students. Addressing them were K. Balakrishnan (who later became a Member of the Rajya Sabha), Ravindra Varma (later Union Labour Minister) and N.D. Jose. The student leaders hoisted the flag.

Defying oppression

We threw up flowers and shredded paper pieces and shouted Mahatma Gandhi Ki Jai, Vande Mataram and Inquilab Zindabad. Then we set out on a march through the city, followed by a huge posse of policemen. We marched to Bhaktivilasom, where Sir CP used to reside, and then to Kowdiar Palace. In front of Bhaktivilasom, we shouted “CP go back.”

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 4:04:46 PM |

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