On this Independence Day, should we write the word ‘Happy’? Is it a ‘Happy’ Independence Day? Are we really independent? Is Independence just a demarcation of political boundaries or is there more to it? The pillars of our Independence… Faith, Unity, Discipline…are they symbolic of a deeper meaning or are they merely a decorative pillar to adorn the City of Lights. The pandemic has brought out our deepest fears and a sense of unpredictability. The physical struggle to breathe, emotional struggle to mourn our loved ones, mental struggle to understand the unforeseen future is taking a toll on mankind. And, as if this never-ending fear was not enough, we are encompassed by voices around us screaming of helplessness. Here is a harassed child crying out for help, down the street is a young girl screaming in terror, here is a young boy questioning his freedom. Are we really free? In this diabolically free country, we pay a price to breathe, to speak, to rebel? Why do we give our children freedom to fly but clip their wings for fear of the unknown? Never has there been more fear, confusion and distrust. The times are tough. Inconceivable mental sufferings are being witnessed amongst our youth. Depression, panic, fear, stress, trauma and adjustment disorder to name a few. According to a research conducted on rising suicide cases in developing countries, it was seen that these psychiatric sufferings are also accounted for about 90% of the global suicide occurrences in the extreme cases. In a developing country like Pakistan, the pandemic is not only a public health crisis but an overwhelming economic and social crisis for years to come. As the lockdown prevails, we are witnessing a rise in unemployment, poverty and starvation. Our already flailing education system is on the verge of collapse as we try to hold on to the shreds of knowledge. ‘Zoom Fatigue’ is numbing young minds as the virtual classrooms and meetings cause symptoms of burnout. So, just to wish, ‘Happy’ Independence Day is not enough. In the face of social isolation and loneliness, economic recession and fear of unemployment, harassment and discrimination, fear of starvation and poverty, let us endeavour to spread happiness; Let’s open our hearts to empathy. Let’s open our ears to silent cries Let’s open our eyes to unseen pain Let’s open our arms to quivering fears Let’s join hands together and voice our concerns.