A lot of us talk about freedom all the time, either to others, or to ourselves in our heads. Some are seeking freedom from the established norms and structures, some from their parents or partners, and some from the demons residing within their own selves. Not a day goes by, when I don’t question mine or someone else’s notions of freedom. So what is freedom to me? What is freedom for a nineteen year old college girl? Is it roaming around on the fearful New Delhi streets way past her curfew, or is it defeating the monstrous self-doubt buried in her chest to finally go learn something like bellydancing which sounds absolutely fascinating to the insides of her head? What is it that makes me, you, or anyone, free? For an atheist, freedom might amount to getting rid of religious role-playing in the name of taking care of other’s sentiments. For a writer, it may mean being able to write whatever comes to him/her instantly, as raw as it might be, without any prescribed objective in mind. For a poor person, freedom would mean being able to break free of financial constraints. We’re all different people with different stories, and yet we’re all surrounded by the invisible force of sustenance, something which keeps us all alive, irrespective of all circumstantial elements.
Have you ever felt this invisible source of power and love?
I have felt it. In a moment of silence when all I was doing was breathing, while sleeping which feels like surrendering myself being completely oblivious to whatever was and whatever will be, in moments when an unknown woman on the street greeted me with a smile that went upto her mysterious eyes, in moments when my hands were shaking with all the pain he left behind and never looked back at, in these moments, I’ve felt the invisible force of sustenance, I’ve felt the power of silence, I’ve found answers to some of my most irrational and abstract questions. I have felt myself developing this altered state of consciousness, which is calm, free and enlightened. I don’t know what it is and I don’t even remotely intend to give it a concrete or imaginable form either. So my idea of freedom, is not from the boy who held every thought of mine so callously that I forgot what a loving touch felt like, it isn’t from my demanding schedule and deadlines, not even from the normalisation of patriarchy which engulfs me everyday, not from this or from that, not from anything at all. My idea of freedom, of real freedom, is not freedom from things, but realising that one is already free. I’ve realised that everyone here is a free soul, who will be loved and protected in their own way, but all we have to do is embrace the freedom within us rather than look for it outside. I do fight, I fight the world and rebel almost radically, to destroy the structures and norms existing since time immemorial, but I’m not dependent on breaking them, in order to feel free. If I’m not free in the process, I can’t be free when I reach the end.
All I have right now are some acquired skills and my destructive (maybe constructive) doubts and my flawed self and beautiful dreams of what I want to become and how I want my life to be. But I’m not dependent on becoming or having any of those great things, in order to feel free. Whoever I am, with whatever I have, in this moment, this very moment, is free, absolutely free. Why should I keep running after something or the other all the time, why should I regret whatever was, and why should I live in hopes of a beautiful tomorrow? No I won’t. All I will do, is realise and remind myself, that, in this moment, I exist, and forevers are often not longer than a moment.
Whatever was, whatever will be and could be, are things of worlds I don’t exist in, and leaving my freedom there would be the beginning of a life long journey of endless pain and seeking. If all of us, could just take a moment, and exist with everything we have, in this moment, we’d all not only be free but we will realise that we have always been. We have always been free.
And when you find this sense of absolute freedom, those living in their delusive world of relative freedom, will laugh at you, everyday. They will call you crazy, an idealist. They won’t believe in your dreams, they won’t believe in your belief. But you need to hold onto your freedom aggressively. You need to defend it like your baby till your very last breath. You’ll be shattered to your absolute last piece on the way, because all you’ll have with you is your own shivering shadow, your own sense of constructed and incredibly powerful self, your reckless and strong personality, free from the chains people call friendship and love, free from the ways in which people are conditioned and accustomed to perceiving the world. You’ll be your own person and that will be your freedom.
Written by Avnika Gupta