What is your Freedom?

Freedom is a purely personal prerogative. It is inclusive and unique. To each his own.

WWhen the fervour of the celebrations and the big questions of the nation got mellowed into the rhythm of quotidian life, one evening, quite unexpectedly, I found myself inclined to ponder on the word 'Freedom'. It's contemporary relevance in my life. In our lives.

So much has been spent and so little saved of this abstraction, which is, by the way, the most potent emotion, that for a moment I was incapable of even having a thought on it. But then the urge to look at it simply, without its baggage, swelled up within me.

I felt that for the unborn child, release from the amniotic sac and into a blurred but beautiful world was freedom. An unsteady crawl and an ardour for the unexplored could set a baby free as did school and friends to one in his growing up years. A movement beyond the familiar walls is the first taste of freedom that one can relish, I realised.

An infant crawling

As years yield to eagerness and enthusiasm, freedom eventually changes from a spontaneous experience to a conscious want. There is a constant whine about the lack of freedom in my cousin's 12-year old daughter's voice. Her friends have phones of their own, they are allowed to go for sleepovers, they can exercise their own preferences in matters of clothes and the list seems endless. And, as you would agree, such matters never featured in our times, let alone the generations before us. So, if I may say, freedom is an ever-evolving idea. Like everything else, it is governed by a single constant. Change.

Well…! I was naive to associate age with the ability to sample freedom. Mostly they are never directly proportional. Today as an adult, I need to curb my freedom way more than I did before. The best part is that it is I who enforces the restriction. Many considerations have to be prioritised before my own wants. And though I'm free to do what I will, literally, I cannot do it. I am reminded of the lines from the poem I Remember, I Remember by Thomas Hood:

"My spirit flew in feathers then,
That is so heavy now…"

They who can conquer such limitations imposed on us by age and aggregate are the only ones who can fathom the copious facets of freedom. The gifted golden voice of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, say for instance, sets him free, while Vincent Van Gogh perhaps affiliated freedom with the strokes of his brush. His cosmos amidst the chaos of severe psychotic disorders. Any artist, for that matter, takes his flights of freedom, I presume, through his expression and creation. Of the known and the unknown.

The ability to manifest oneself through the form that he chooses is freedom indeed. This freedom is uncharted territory. And it is this streak in an individual that must be kindled and cultivated. The new-age schools seem to have recognised this need to create individuals and not clones. Unique entities by following their own hearts. After all, it was the exercise of the alternative that made the curious little Albert turn into the genius Einstein. More relatable might be the celebrity college dropout, Oprah Winfrey, who found emancipation by listening to her inner voice. Today, she is a name to be reckoned with in the fields of media and philanthropy.

Freedom, however, has two fastidious features. It is a purely personal prerogative. Nobody can give it to you. You can feel it of your own accord. More crucial, your liberty must not entail someone’s limit. Your happiness should not herald harm for another. So, though freedom is an inclusive concept, we mostly prefer to use it exclusively. And there begins the abuse of it.

I gave myself an interesting assignment yesterday. I asked a handful of people around, what 'freedom' meant to them. A Grade 6 student came up with a rather imaginative answer. He wanted to be free to travel back in time to be with the Wright Brothers. Witness them coming up with the marvellous invention, the aeroplane. A wife enjoyed enough elbow-room in mini packets of minutes throughout the week. A hot cuppa when everybody has left for the day, an impromptu catch-up with friends, the weekly ‘Kathak’ dance lesson and the like. A divorcee is liberated after the long-awaited detachment with his spouse and a septuagenarian is looking forward to spending the rest of his years by himself, on his own.

A personal workstation with a cup and phone A picture on a bridge from the side window of a car

The secretary of our locality, a businessman, again, has a completely different encounter with this power. He feels free like a bird when he travels. A packed suitcase gives him an equal dose of adrenaline rush as does the promise of an unseen land. A long drive declutters the mind of a friend of mine, whereas a day of online binge-watching gives relief to a colleague. Ultimately, freedom is a feeling-turned-into-fact solely by the one who undergoes it. To each his own.

Two babies jumping and enjoying the muddy puddle

With so much to ruminate on, I chanced upon a shot taken by our beloved photographer friend during one of her visits to the west. One look at it and all the loose strands came together to make a whole. A child. Children are embodiments of freedom. Unadulterated and uninhibited, they live freedom. Adults are in a sustained strive to emulate them. Lucky are those who can harness the two parallel tracks of innocence and experience to foster the quintessence of freedom.

railway track

By: Promita Banerjee Nag

This article and the opinions expressed in it are personal opinions. It is not meant for imposing specific views or endorsing a particular way of life. Also please do ignore any errors or omissions that you might come across. We pledge to learn from them. Happy viewing.


  1. Wow! Such a great read!! Love how you commented on the connection between creativity and freedom.

    1. Freedom and creativity share a symbiotic relationship. It is hardly possible to discern when one becomes the other.

  2. Very well wrtten. I absolutely agree that freedom is to each his own. To me , the sunrise every day gives me a sense of freedom....to choose new possibilities.

  3. Your involvement must have motivated many others to seek out their own freedom or, at the least, acknowledge their essence. Thank you.

  4. Glad to read the story. A true sense of freedom could be imagined out.


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