Banadi was one of the best students of her school. The entire school, be it teachers or students, knew her as an intelligent girl whose sweet words left great impressions on the hearts of every person. She came up with great ideas about every project assigned to her. Thus, she was immensely respected.
She was indeed a great human being who helped every student with whatever problem they had.
It was in recess when Banadi and the other students of grade 10 were talking near the school canteen. Just then, the ringing of the bell announced the culmination of recess and all the girls and boys headed towards the classes silently.
In the last period, which was of Pakistan Studies, the principal came to address the students.
“Dear students, August 14 is the Independence Day of our country. This is the day to pay homage to the great leaders who strived hard to find a safe haven for us in the shape of Pakistan. Thus, the school will remain closed on that day.”
We aren’t independent till every single person has equal opportunity like the rest of the people. And freedom that denies the rights of others isn’t freedom at all
Hearing this, all the students became super excited. A buzz filled the room as they discussed what they would do, how they would celebrate that day and what they would buy.
Meanwhile, Banadi was sitting silently and was absorbed in some deep thoughts. Unlike others, she wanted to make that day more special. Suddenly an idea struck her mind. The idea was that she would help every person she met.
To accomplish that task, she didn’t wait for the Independence Day to arrive, she started doing so right away in the class.
“Isra, didn’t you ask for the biology notebook? Here it is,” she said while taking it out from her bag.
Just then, the bell rang to announce the end of the school day. Banadi packed her half-torn bag and started to march towards her home.
The next day, she observed the excitement and celebratory mood in the environment outside her house. The streets were decorated with green and white flags. The people in the neighbourhood had hoisted the national flag on their houses and many children had painted green and white colours on their foreheads, cheeks and hands.
Banadi started her busy schedule. She started with first helping her mother in the kitchen in preparing her father’s breakfast. Suddenly, she noticed that the faucet was not closed properly and water was dripping. She quickly went to turn it off since water scarcity was a day-to-day problem confronted by them.
“Uff, mum didn’t even turn the tap off! We shouldn’t do that as hundreds and thousands of Pakistanis suffer every day just because of water shortage,” she thought to herself.
After breakfast, Banadi headed towards the gate. She noticed that people were busy in exploding fire crackers and other explosives.
“Why do they disturb the peace of the city, despite knowing that the real essence of freedom lies in spreading peace and harmony?” she lamented.
As Banadi had planned, she spent the whole Independence Day in helping elderly persons cross roads, clearing garbage and fallen leaves from outside and around her house, teaching the poor children of the servants of her neighbourhood and, above all, giving a sweet smile to everyone she met. Then she went inside her house and helped her mother and sister in household chores.
Understandably, that night Banadi was very tired and in no time she fell off to sleep.
“Who are you?” Banadi asked as she looked up and saw many people dressed in white clothes at the door. She couldn’t recognise them at first as everything was a bit unclear. Then the light began to fall on them and, to her surprise, she saw the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and many members of the Muslim League standing beside him.
“We are deeply pleased with you my child. You are a true patriot. Continue this act every day. Independence Day isn’t an ordinary event. It is the day when you are free to live your life as you wish it to be. We are one beneath the national flag of Pakistan. We aren’t independent till every single person has equal opportunity like the rest of the people. And freedom that denies the rights of others isn’t freedom at all,” the Quaid concluded.
“Mum, he is here ... he is here!” Banadi shouted.
“Who is here my child?” her mother asked as she gently touched her shoulder while leaning over Banadi’s bed. As Banadi opened her eyes, she saw nothing out of ordinary in her room and the sun was shining brightly outside the window. Surprised and excited, Banadi told her mother all about her dream.
From that day onwards, the whole neighbourhood witnessed an immense change in Banadi’s behaviour. Buoyed by her achievements, Banadi didn’t only spread happiness, but also taught others that the real meaning of freedom lies in helping others.
Banadi realised that every day is Independence Day if one helps even a single person and shares a smile. Banadi decided to try other meaningful ways to help people around her and continued teaching the street kids to spread education for the benefit of the country.
Published in Dawn, Young World, August 10th, 2019