The bird soared high into the sky relishing every moment of the freedom that had been granted to it unknowingly by the little boy who had inadvertently opened the cage. The shopkeeper was furious at the child and didn’t calm down until he had been paid in full the price of the bird by the little boy’s mother.
But the boy stood there mesmerized, quite oblivious to the mayhem his action had caused, as he watched the bird take flight, flapping its wings majestically, as if waving a thankful goodbye to the boy until it disappeared into the blue horizon. Freedom at last- Ah!
To feel what that bird must’ve been feeling is a revelation in itself. There are many differing views on what freedom actually is, I presented my own in the above narrative. Read on to get a sneak peek into what fuels the desire for free will.
Let us begin with a case in point. Unless and until you let that boy on the last bench voice his concerns and opinions on issues that his raw and yet unripe mind is bursting at the seams with, he will always consider himself a victim of crude bigotry. That his thoughts were never allowed to take wings, subjugated under the shroud of reprimand and moral condemnation will impinge on him throughout the rest of his life. That leap of faith which he so vehemently believed would come knocking once someone took notice and even a feeble trace of appreciation came from the remotest of corners, never happened because he was branded a rebel even before he got a chance to convey his instinctive feelings to the society’s pundits. That is what to some extent, freedom of expression amounts to. Many would-have-been leaders, reformists and game changers never got a chance to tap into their vast potential of talent because from day one they were made to believe that you are not fit to mingle with the aristocracy if you haven’t got your math right, if you haven’t made the formulas of science your bible, no matter what your thoughts about the basic fundamental human principles are. That is what we have turned our centres of learning and educational institutions into. And that is precisely the reason why people like Albert Einstein and Bill Gates, to name a few, had to drop out to make it big.
This brings to my second concern. No wonder that the constitutional provision of freedom of speech and expression is misused so blatantly here. Politics- the word itself paints a grim picture in our minds, not to mention that it reeks of unbearable filth and disgust as far as morally acceptable values and ethos are concerned. Blaring loudspeakers with our so-called leaders’ verbal jibes at religious sentiments makes me sick to the core. But the fault lines don’t really lie with them, so to speak. They have found it hard, impossible at times, to free themselves from the centuries old, carefully brandished, maliciously poised intent of carving out communal mayhem to secure vote banks so crucial to keeping their egos intact. They are incredibly inept at looking at the larger picture, so crucial for a nation’s growth. And the worst part is, they won’t let you either. You are bound to be swayed by their oratory skills until at some point or the other you do come to terms with the fact that the hatred that you harboured for so long in your heart against that unsuspecting Muslim neighbour was actually the handiwork of these very goons who we elected to protect the secular fabric of the nation.
It is when you wake up to this truth, when you choose to rise above these menial and meaningless divides along caste and religious lines, when you feel your conscience stirred and you begin to believe that resources like food and education must be equally shared by the citizens cutting across all anthropogenic barriers, will you have truly attained freedom.
FREEDOM- this word will assume its true meaning only for those who have the foresight to see through the layers; those who truly believe that they can be messiahs of change and break away from the shackles that have kept them in oblivion, to work for the greater good that matters.
You were born to fly, don’t let anything subvert your instincts. There’s a lot of soul-searching to do here.
[Mohd. Usman Mallick (class of 2014) is a graduate student in the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering. He can be reached via email at: [email protected].]
[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.]