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The weekend ahead looks promising. On Saturday most sisters will be rushing to their brothers to renew the lifetime protection warranty. Independence Day on a Monday is an added bonanza. It seems all these years of singing Just another manic Monday Wish it were Sunday has finally borne fruition.
Many of my friends are planning a weekend getaway to a nearby hill station and for the rest of us it will be an excuse to shop some more and eat some more. An extended weekend is like a windfall so why not make the most of it.
But what many of us will not do, is ponder upon the historic relevance of a day which marks the birth of a free nation.
In our country we don’t exactly celebrate our Independence. School kids are herded to Red Fort and made to sing patriotic songs in the searing heat.... a lacklustre speech by a Prime Minister who prefers silence to action and does a Dhritarashatra to the misdemeanours of his colleagues.... It almost seems hypocritical to celebrate 64 years of emancipation from British rule only to have most of our elected loot the country’s resources and empty its coffers. It’s tough to be a proud citizen of this country.
Which brings me to the question – what does freedom mean to you? When I asked around, I got interesting responses. To be able to drink straight from a carton of milk.....freedom from accepted norms of how I should behave....to be free of control that others exert on our life....to be capable enough to course the chart of my life without having to depend on anyone for help...to be able to throw my wet towel on the floor.
Freedom is how we perceive it; each of us interprets it in our unique ways.
Now let me ask you another one – do you really believe that we were born free? As children our parents make decisions on our behalf and decide what our priorities should be. We let them because we think they know what’s best for us. We meekly submit to the roles assigned to us and struggle to prove ourselves worthy of the crown of expectations placed on our head. The odd rebel is applauded only if he achieves success else he remains the family’s best kept secret.
So as emancipated citizens of a liberated nation, how many of us can claim that we are truly liberated? How many of us feel free enough to speak our minds without the fear of repercussion... to pursue our dreams and live our life the way we want to. Freedom maybe our birthright but it is not bestowed upon us, it has to be achieved. It may be as trivial as the length of a skirt or make others accept the choices we make. We need to have the conviction to stand for what we feel is right and live by it.
Freedom is a tricky thing and comes with its baggage of responsibility. The mistakes we make are ours alone and that’s why the triumph seems sweeter.
If you ask me what freedom means to me – it is a journey that begins with unshackling our minds from prejudice, bias, negativity and insecurities that plague us. Independence is the freedom of our soul, sensitivity of the mind and a feeling understood only by the heart. Only when we sensitize ourselves to conditions around us can we be the change that we seek to see around us.
India, for all its faults, is unique in all facets of its collective entity – with different faiths, many cultures, many cuisines, and many thoughts that co-exist. Where we enjoy Chhole Bhature with Dhokla and see a Bong woman dance to Bhangra beats. You will come across radical views on life. Intellect has a left and a right. Agreed we need a World Cup victory to unite us, but what a celebration it is when 1.2 billion of us come together and rejoice! The skies light up with crackers and excitement feels like a pleasant jolt. We worship our celluloid stars however dumb they maybe. We value love and treat our family as sacrosanct. We cry when a city burns, fight for justice for the wronged and go all out to support a frail old man when he demands that our leaders be made accountable to the public. We may feel disenchanted but we will never give up hope that there will come a time when India will lead the world.
Till then let us seek freedom for ourselves. Free your mind, the rest will follow. Any takers?