‘Best Dad’ mugs for father’s day, lawn outfits for mother’s day, heart-shaped goodies for Valentine’s Day. Independence Day was no different. Every year, banking on the concept of freedom and independence, the clutches of consumerism seem to be holding us increasingly tighter.
Close to Independence Day, we saw azadi sales at most shops in urban centres around the country. And yes, much like every shopper, I was initially thrilled at the idea of a 14 per cent discount on the chic kurta that I had my eyes on since last month, but something about brands publicising their products using slogans along the lines of ‘This is freedom’ made me feel uncomfortable. Independence, love and freedom are not goods that can be displayed on designer storefronts.
Every day, we are made to believe that happiness is just a purchase away. Undoubtedly, any holiday season the world over brings with it discounts and product promotions, but with this fine-tuning of our minds, we run the risk of these things being the highlight of our day, and not the day itself, which in fact, should mean a lot more to us. While celebrating Independence Day this August 14, we should have reminded ourselves of the cost of this independence. To commemorate this important period in history — when our forefathers gave up all material gains, travelling penniless to a newly formed Pakistan — by making purchases, seemed inappropriate.
As massive billboards went up publicising these azadi sales, physically closest to these adverts were Pakistanis travelling on rooftops of buses. Yet for them, these products remained largely out of reach. Every Independence Day, radio stations blast patriotic songs. Whenever we sing along to “Main bhi Pakistan hoon, Tu bhi Pakistan hai” let us remember that Independence Day is also for the boy selling flags at the traffic signal, the salesperson standing behind the counter at stores in high-rise malls and for the domestic staff at our houses. Let’s be extra kind to our fellow Pakistanis and remember that independence signifies much more than the gleaming billboards falsely advertising what it means.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2015.