It started raining at 3 o’ clock when I was sitting at the English Department with my friend Eeliya. Monsoon is at its peak and the showers were welcomed in this humid weather. The grey sky beautifully contrasted with the lush greenery of Jamia. We looked on quietly at the ambiance which our surroundings created. The rain it seemed was slowly washing away the squalidness of the day. Sometime later, when there was no sign of the rain gods letting up, we decided to venture out in the growing thunderstorm.
Eeliya quickly opened her pink polka dotted umbrella and stepped into the rain. I, on the other hand, unwrapped my frightening fluorescent yellow raincoat and donned it with a certain shyness attributed to occasions where you do something out of the ordinary in public. We hiked up a run to where my bicycle was parked, unlocked it and walked till the gate where my friend found a rickshaw and after our customary byes went her way. I, for a moment, sat on the seat contemplating the traffic.
But deciding it was futile to wait, pushed on the pedal and in a matter of seconds was on my way.
And what a way it was! The countless pelting like stones droplets made a screen in front of my eyes making my vision unclear. The roads were all potholes with rivulets of water zigzagging it. But I, like Wonder Woman with my yellow cape billowing by, dodged all the puddles, along with some motorcycles as well. I even said ‘whoosh’ when the tires streaked through a puddle. People were passing me by in a blur. Some were staring, others laughing. I just flew past them without a care in the world, enjoying the rain.
When I reached home my parents took a look at me and covertly smiled. My brothers were not so sparing and laughed in my face. I, definitely, was looking a sight in my wet as rags raincoat.
Yet it was such a fun exercise.
That day for me was an awakening of my independent self.
The feeling of freedom which I got riding when the slippery roads were almost empty and the few people who were present were huddled under the umbrella of a tree was infinite. It made me think that I’m also capable of doing things, which others are wary of, if I set my heart on to it. Riding a cycle is no daring act but I being a girl, people look on with such a surprise as if I’m a rare entity. And after the surprise comes the comments and the judgments. Many females due to these unwelcomed advances are wary of doing things which they have a right to. I, therefore, treasure it as my privilege and independence.
Independence constitutes many ideas and phenomena. For some it is as basic as getting a right to education; for others it may be going out late without any supervision; and for a few others it is a state of mind. For me, however, independence is synonymous with happiness. Riding my cycle to college makes me independent simply because it makes me happy.
It also entails living my life without any peer pressure where nobody is breathing down my neck telling or showing me what is cool or uncool, or what is right or wrong.
[Zainab Abrar (class of 2014) is a graduate student in the Department of English. She can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.]
[This article is in response to a call-for-articles made by Jamia Journal on the occasion of India’s 67th Independence Day. We asked our readers to write and send in their opinion on what independence meant to them. Of all the submissions we received, “Independence Lies in the Freedom to be Happy,” by Zainab Abrar was deemed to be the best. The first, second, and third runner-ups respectively were: “Born to Fly,” by Mohd. Usman Mallick; “Strive for Your Full ‘Half Independence,'” by Aqsa Khan; and “Independence: Freedom to Live Freely” by Sheikh Aamir Ali.]