Competition Entry #31 | Freedom to Dream: India at 70


ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Blogging Competition Shortlisted Entry


What is Freedom?
Almas Khateeb, 25 years old, Mumbai

How do we tackle this abstruse question?

Shall we get all-serious and try to find answers in dictionaries? The online Oxford Dictionary defines Freedom in multiple ways, such as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants”, and “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved”.

Shall we see what audacious meaning of Freedom has been entered into the Urban Dictionary by bored teenagers, who spend way too much time on the internet? “Freedom is everything; everything should be free.”

While these may be the correct definitions of the word Freedom, they don’t mean a whole lot if a personal idea of Freedom doesn’t exist. Freedom is basically different strokes for different folks. For some, Freedom could mean wearing a skirt; for some, it could mean wearing the burka. For some, Freedom means going against the will of their parents and marrying the person they love; for some, it’s leaving an abusive spouse.

Freedom could be reading a book that’s banned by the government, or it could be reading a book that is mostly considered to be applesauce. Freedom means you can do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it, because as Albert Camus once said, “the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion”.

If rebellion means freedom, then one must rebel. Rebel against whatever it is that enslaves you. Rebel against the patriarchy. Rebel against outdated, sexist, traditions that keep you chained. Go kiss a boy, even if you’re a boy yourself. Go into the kitchen, even if you’re menstruating. Yes, society wants you to be an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer and yes, society wants you to settle down and get married by 25 and have two kids by 30 and then raise them to be an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer. But don’t do it if you don’t want to.

True freedom is when a person can dream to be whatever she or he wants and then pursues that dream, thus, making it a reality in a world that is bent on proving them false.

Freedom is being you. You are Freedom.

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