Their tea was getting cold, but they were oblivious to it as they sat on the balcony, under a canopy of green and white paper fluttering in the breeze of a warm August afternoon. She felt overwhelmed by wave after wave of nostalgia as she watched the children on the street run around with their little flags, every single one of them wearing some shade of green, bellowing out one national song after another, with an occasional shout of "Pakistan Zindabad" thrown in during those awkward minutes when no one could come up with a song. She remembered her own childhood; being woken up to watch the national parade, the whole family standing up to sing the anthem, the tears in her grandfather's eyes.
She had once asked him about it.
"When your heart is in two places at once, you'll understand."
Wise old man. She missed him. And the Independence Day breakfast. Oh how she missed that. The oily parathas and the chickpeas gravy that made you feel groggy all day long. But it was the unconditional love and pride and the purity of those feelings she missed the most.
She turned to look at him, he kept watching the celebrations. She looked away and closed her eyes; she could still see the ocean of white and green. He reached out to hold her hand when she sighed, making her smile.
"I wish I could be seven again."
"What the hell for?"
"I don't know. Look at that joy. Look how happy they are. I want to feel that way again."
"That isn't joy. It isn't happiness. It's living a lie. This blissful ignorance will shatter soon enough"
"Uff! Why do you always have to be so morbid."
"It's not being morbid. It's called growing the fuck up. It's called a reality check. Look around you A. Do you really want this blind patriotism? Pretending nothing is wrong, that everything is perfect?"
"Now you know why this country is going to hell. Half of us our drowning in an ocean of blind faith and the other half is doing their best to keep those idiots under"
"It can't be worse than this emptiness where you realize that you have nothing to fight for at all."
He just rolled his eyes as he got up and picked up his cup of tea. It would be the last thing he would do before a stray bullet fired to celebrate independence would find its way into his skull, the blood splattered flag behind him mocking him as he fell.