The first cuckoo announced the coming of spring. The newspapers say Illina Sen, the wife of Binayak Sen, the barefoot doctor to tribals and peasants, is now under police scrutiny for "inviting foreigners to a conference", and yes, I remember my childhood, when my father made us wake at 5 a.m and walk all the way to India Gate, which was a good 15 kms from where we lived in Jamia Millia. Earlier we watched the parade from the roof top of our house, or a neighbour's house, near Minto Bridge, which was adjacent to Connaught Place, now called Rajiv Chowk. I'm talking of the 1960s, where republic day didn't mean the valorisation of the gun, but it was a day like no other, such joy under a spring time sun, with the flowers beginning to bloom at the crossings, and the parade a day of total joy. Families assembled at vantage points, people from adjoining villages arrived in large numbers, and there was no T.V. The Republic Day is the day of The Constitution and we remain a socialist, secular republic because the people say so, even now in the day of malls and patenting brinjal.