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On the eve of Independence Day, there is a flurry of activities and feelings all around me. Feelings of patriotism, authentic pride in being an Indian, gearing up for the flag hoisting program in my son’s school and the residential complex we live in and also happily soaking in the relaxed feeling of the much awaited long weekend.
But, for the last few days, ever since the upcoming celebrations of Independence Day has been flashed across media, school publications, articles on Facebook and so on , I have been thinking aloud what exactly does ‘ Independence or Freedom’ mean to me ? And I could only equate it to ‘LOVE’. Not because I am a die-hard romantic, but because of my realization of - My loved ones and their feelings and actions towards me, the life we choose to live and make, the decisions we take and their consequences and impact, the way we choose to love and be loved, the manner in which we think and act, all these ultimately decide the quality of life we lead. And the freedom we have to develop and build our identity independent of any societal norms or need to conform to any specific ‘type’, religion/caste /community and just be ‘ME’ .
I am the youngest of three siblings and all throughout my childhood, my parents gave me the freedom to do what I wanted to. Not anywhere close to what most parents of young boys and girls do today. They were extremely disciplined, regulated my timings outside home, kept a vigilant watch on my whereabouts, were very particular about my set of friends, and had a strict policy of no late-night parties or sleep-overs at friend’s place and all this continued till I was about 24 and ready to tie the knot. While I resisted all this and obviously rebelled at times like normal teenagers and young adults, what I didn’t realize then was that all through this phase, they gave me one of the most powerful tools to be an independent person – The freedom to do what I wanted to and the freedom to follow my heart and marry the man of my dreams. And that’s because they loved me the most and all that matters to them, till date, is to see me happy.
I have been married to my best friend for the last 16 years and thankfully that has been the best decision of my life. While every relationship requires huge investment of time and efforts, but a happy and engaged relationship gives you the ‘FREEDOM’ to lead the life you want and be the person you want to be. I have the freedom to decide what I would like to pursue further in my career, when I would like to work or not work and be an active /passive contributor to the family bank balance, freedom to go on girl’s trips every year or whenever I wish to, freedom to have and develop deep friendships ( gender is insignificant) , freedom to discuss and share everything that my heart wants to pour out, freedom to not succumb to any community or societal pressures (who cares about ‘Log Kya Kahenge’) , freedom to choose to be a mother or not and most important, freedom to be Happy For No Reason . And this is all because of the deep love and bond that we share as best friends cum spouses.
And now, when my son is 11 years old, the only thing I sincerely hope and wish for is that I am able to pass on this baton of freedom to him that helps him decide the life he would like to choose and the one that makes him happy. As a by-product of an inter-caste marriage, he has already witnessed the initial wave of freedom to change his last name to GupPai ( Gupta+Pai combination respectively from his Dad and Mom) and he clearly knows through our actions and interactions that he is not bound to follow any specific career/ passion because that’s what we want or what others follow. He has the freedom to decide what makes him happy and of course, we shall enable him with the right supplements of love, direction, affection and compassion to help him achieve his goal. We shall teach him the basic fundamentals of life and it’s his choice of thoughts and beliefs that shall take him on a flight to his fantasy world! And again, this is purely because of the unconditional LOVE we feel towards him and his prerogative to achieve freedom.
So, I shall celebrate this Independence Day with my loved ones and we shall raise a toast to the ‘love’ly freedom we have to be happy always!