Sunday, 16 August 2015

Her struggle for freedom within.

I've been friends with this girl for quite some time now. Truth be told I was drawn towards her largely because she is pretty attractive and is literally the belle of every ball. However, what mesmerized me the most post I formed acquaintance with her, was the fervent way in which she accommodated yet another lackadaisical shrimp like me in her social circle. So we became pretty good friends and she often shared what was worth sharing. She used to depict this unusual enigma in which no matter how much you stretch a conversation because you were a schmuck, she would steer it in a meaningful direction. In essence, she was happy and confident, full of verve and flair. She has always had these tremendous aspirations regarding what she wants to accomplish in this lifetime. She has big dreams of making it big in the academic avenues she plans to foray into, and then to make strides in the professional realms. She was the most forward looking girl I ever met and she was all set to make it big, primarily for the reason that she was superbly confident and optimistic about the future. And on one fine day, everything changed! 

She became capricious with her mood swings suggesting something specious and serious. She would suddenly become dolorous and then would once again appear to be happy. After a point of time one could ascertain she was wearing plastic smiles to maintain the pretense of being happy because maybe she didn't want the despondence to spread. However, her efforts went in vain and she literally withered under the pressure of her tragedy. She wouldn't speak a word and it took persistent requests and blathering to get the truth out of her. She had a break up and she was absolutely mortified to even share it with anyone. She was in absolute tatters.

I was literally jolted by surprise because one, I didn't know she was in a relationship. Now that was either because I was too naive to know when a girl is committed or because she was pretty ingenious in not bringing her love in the social domain. And two, because I saw absolutely no reason why someone would abjure comity with a girl who was startlingly unmatched in almost all aspects. So on further inquest, I found out that the guy was the typical philanderer who had to change women and this girl fell for him because she was pretty shy and introvert a good 4 years back, and she just fell for the ensnaring charm of the guy who was an expert with his spiels. 

So post the breakup, the girl avowed a vengeance of sorts with life, post a pretty intense deliberation. She set out her priorities for life and she told me she needs to make it big and achieve something gargantuan to prove to herself, and to that guy, that she is not perturbed by any of the travails he put her through. I was pretty happy and I thought magic will unravel in front of me. Countless examples from history have provided enough instances for me to believe that there is nothing like a stoic phlegmatic woman whose vows are stronger than steel. So I just volunteered to become a part of this girl's success story because she seemed so determined and her outlook for her own future was so lively and sanguine. So I decided to extend any possible help in her pursuits and things were in line for a while. But once again, all the momentum, all the flow, got expunged eventually. 

Instead of remaining focused on her promise to herself, she dithered and vacillated and seemed to lose all the tandem. She often complained the transition was tough, which just had to be. She said 4 years of enrapturing moments, all just went away in a flash, and she suddenly started cursing herself. So while the other guy, promiscuous as he would've been, had a new girl to dally around with. This one single girl made herself the fulcrum of all of this universe's gloom and dreariness and got herself in a mold full of penance. It was too confusing and arcane for an onlooker like me. 3 months ago the girl was living her life merrily, 2 months ago she felt dejected, one month ago she was in the right stead to make it big, and now she felt mawkish again. So I tried investigating further in her life to see if there was any historical provenance to it, and yes there was! 

So while I've mentioned already that she was an introvert initially, it made sense to see why things were like that. Born and brought up in a family of achievers and a social setup that demanded adherence, this girl was always instructed to be both conservative and self dependent. Her parents had to make enormous sacrifices to get her the best possible education, and while she toiled hard, she always felt the final results didn't do justice to what was expected out of her. And that always forced her to remain a sentinel for most of her life. Hence she became a introvert because she was living under the confines of an existence that couldn't be otiose and that had to serve a purpose. She just had to deliver! Hence, she had superior morals and ethics, and she was waiting for her time. But when the time to deliver came during the entrance examinations in std 12, things didn't turn out quite right.

She was quite devastated and full of remorse for having failed her parents. And while her parents were happy for what she managed to achieve, she obligated herself to some penitence by working harder with whatever she was left with. She still had the opportunity of scoring well at the college she secured an admit in, and then cracking a good seat at post graduation level. So she defined her bounds and went about it. And it was precisely at that juncture when this guy started hitting at her and while she had the defense of her dreams, the guy ultimately succeeded. This girl thought it'll be a good idea to finally live a life while seeking her endeavors and she felt she has the right combination to go about it. But everything fell apart just because of that.

By connecting the dots of her life, I realized that she was never free. She in fact always succumbed to something or the other. In Indian society, women as it is are exposed to a potpourri of what the society expects from them. So while she had her parents who would have expected something, she had the society's conservative and radical factions expecting something else. So at any and every point of time, she subscribed to something that she was apparently expected to do, as opposed to doing anything at all by herself, purely on personal accord. And then she went on to do what this one guy would've wanted her to do. In essence she was always entangled and mired in a strange web of objectives she wished to attain, but ones that were never decided by her. She tried living happily by getting along with everyone else and by achieving her collective goals and aims, but in reality she was just trying to live her life for others. So while she appeared free and liberated from the outside as a modern contemporary Indian woman who went on to study, to work and to fall in love with a man of her choice(ostensibly!) In reality, she was struggling for freedom within! 


For her it was the freedom of thoughts, choices, options and opinions that she would have carved herself. Her entire structure of all these facets was built by others and that's precisely what would've made her life the compulsion it suddenly became. And I found that the story of India has been no different! 

At one point of time the Indian civilizations flourished with prosperity and happiness, and with the kind of futuristic outlook other civilizations couldn't have even dreamt of. Women were venerated to the extent of major deities manifested in feminine form, and professions were respected to the extent of there actually being stately concubines and paramours(The nagarvadhus), who were actually revered for how they served the men of the state by disposing off their duties. Most of the things were structured and people had freedom of thought, choice, profession, occupation and what not. And then suddenly, the war of many emerging religions took over. 

The aboriginal Hinduism was extremely emancipated in terms of what people were allowed to do and what was proscribed. However as more religions started sweeping people in their dominions, Hinduism in a bid to fend its own position, went through many modifications. Absolute allegiance and subservience to gods and established religious dictum was never demanded before. And suddenly, idol worshiping crept in along with a severe degradation of the standard and status of women. It seemed as if the Hindu India now suddenly wanted to manifest some religious proclivity and identity because newer religions demanded subscription, and since everyone now wanted to subscribe to a religion, so conscription was now mandated. In short, the people of India were no longer free in sense of doing what they wanted to do. Major kings and reigns now belonged to major religions, and a clash of dynasties was more than a clash of ideologies. It was in fact a clash of religions, and hence suddenly everything that everyone did had to be seen and viewed in the context of its compliance or departure from a religion. The people of India hence lost their true freedom much before the Britishers actually arrived! 

So be it this one single girl who struggled to venture out on her own, solely for the sake of her own ideals and propinquity, or be it the India from that epoch where freedom of thoughts gave way to choosing between didactic thoughts propagated and propounded by major religions. It was all a struggle for the freedom within. In fact see the state of the nation today. While we are the largest democracy, in essence we are actually constricted in choice making. You were not free too choose your leader. You were in fact forced to choose a leader from among the many prospective leaders coronated and oblated by major political parties, which in fact just force feed ideologies to you. And while democracy is supposedly enshrined and protected by these parties having internal politburos or selection committees, in reality democracy and choice are never exercised! You never got a choice to choose a leader. You in fact just got a choice to vote for a leader from the many leaders who were up for avail. And the latter is not decided by free thought. It is decided and largely controlled by select political parties who are so large and so powerful that only they can run reigns on the choices at your disposal. So while the system appears free from outside, there is a tremendous struggle within. 

Now consider Indian youth's choice of occupation and profession. It always seems as if freedom gets brutally murdered there. Once again, at least 90 percent of the folks end up pursuing a profession just because either their parents told them to, or because it is a respected and well established one, or because it is a trend which no one knows the veracity of. In short, even if you had the volition to pursue an endeavor of your choice, it gets ruthlessly decimated because the entire educational and selection and recruitment setup is favored towards the mainstream professions. Hence your freedom of profession and occupation, while it appears intact from outside, is severely restricted from within. 

Now let us consider your choice for a prospective partner. Actual freedom here should dictate that any individual you're comfortable and compatible with, should do. But in reality, lines of separation drawn out by caste and creed advocating groups have become so substantial that your freedom on this front too is largely amiss. And while the law still allows and permits you to go and seek a partner from any coterie, you'd either become a victim of honor killing, or be termed a stigma on the society, getting secluded just because of the exercise of that one single right of marrying someone of your choice. So once again, freedom within is much tinier than what appears outside. 

In a nutshell, while India and Indians can boastfully vaunt our vested rights which the constitution has granted us, in reality our longstanding customs, traditions, culture, history and mindset continue to dictate terms. So unless you are a pococorante who gives no damn to what anyone thinks, you're largely restrained. The nation and more importantly its youth's thoughts, opinions and beliefs are largely bounded, and all of it forces them to refrain and abstain from becoming a trailblazer, which otherwise would have been a genuine indication of freedom!

So as I delved deeper into the life of this one girl who continues to remain saturnine and sad from inside, but gleeful from outside, I envisaged my very own nation, which from the outside seems so much free and so enriched and even upbeat. But from the inside, we are chastened and frail  We take pride in the freedom we can exhibit in the public domain, but in the ghetto where most of us live in, we continue to suanter on a life lived for others, seeing our individual choice and freedom seared every single day. What that girl really needs to do is to see that she needs no one but herself to regain the smile and gumption she once wore every single day, spreading light and merriness all over the place. Only then can she again become as sprightly and as inspiring as she once was. And what India needs to do is to break all barriers of thoughts and choice and plunge into taking risks, as opposed to remaining conservative paupers throughout our lives. And only then would India, the once guiding light of the world, can restore its long lost glory and pride. And how badly do I wish both of these to happen soon. For both of them are free, but are still struggling for the freedom within!