The unsung saga of my fight for Freedom

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Freedom to be oneself.

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It hurts while writing this, unaware of the thousands of implications this piece would bring along. But I’ve had enough and I won’t let this feeling of rage and helplessness suppress me anymore. 

Why do I feel hurt when I’m denied permission to travel to even the nearest places from my house alone? Why do I constantly beg God for getting me out of my hometown? Why do I feel like I’ve never achieved anything in life because I was robbed of my chances? Why do I need to constantly console myself that not being allowed to do a particular thing is maybe for my own good? Why do I find it hard to tame my desires to at least have a sleepover or a night out or just a day where my parents won’t tell me that I am getting out of hand for being late by ten minutes!

Am I asking for too much? Am I being too dramatic?

Well, think about never being allowed to go out of your house, to social gatherings besides school and then, college. Imagine never being able to talk to your parents about your feelings because feelings aren’t a part of your studies. Imagine not knowing that people talked about feelings until you’re taught in that one value-education class that emotions are a thing. Imagine having parents so strict that the only channel you watched till class XII was DD National. I still struggle to relate to my friends who talk about High School Musical, Bulbasaur, Shin-Chan or even Mr.Bean for that matter. Imagine being invited to your best friend’s birthday party and even the thought of asking your parents for permission makes you sick. Imagine going to tuition class for the first time in class IX and being scared to make any guy friends because you don’t know how to. Imagine going to college and thinking about finally getting some freedom but getting your soul crushed the very next moment when your father forbids you to even take a lift from a friend because it’s a he. I still remember the countless times I’ve walked all the way home from college when my girlfriends were absent and because I couldn’t be seen with a guy and also because I was too proud to call my father to pick me up or ask him for travel expenses. Imagine being called a shameful slut by your neighbors, for trying to enjoy morning walks but getting stalked by a guy all the way home. How could I ever explain these things to my parents or to anyone at all?

I don’t know how different my life is from other girls of my age but I sure as hell have seen no one having to struggle so much with their inner selves as to what is right and what is wrong, whom to believe and whom not to! The kind of restrictions I’ve put up with all my life might seem frivolous to a lot of people but I’ve been chained down long enough to understand the importance of freedom.

I crave to be free, to be able to sit in my room, read a book and not be asked why I was reading a novel instead of studying. I want to be free from the thoughts of repercussions if the clock went even ten minutes beyond my ‘curfew’. I want to be free to make my own mistakes and learn from them rather than learning from my elders’ experiences while cooped up inside my home. I want to be free to pursue a course in Art and not study for an entrance exam the moment my vacations begin. I want to be free to have my own opinions about the thousands of things going on in my mind. I want to be free to wear crop tops and short skirts, without being slut-shamed. I want to be free to travel on my own to the nearest river or museum, without an elder accompanying me. I want to be free to pet a stray dog without being told that I’m too careless to care for another living being. I want to be free to paint my own room with Batman and put up Breaking Bad posters and Chris Hemsworth’s or Michele Morrone’s pictures. I want to be free to tell my relatives that I don’t want to be a part of their gossip about a certain third relative. I want to be free to have as many guy friends as I want without being afraid that someone might know about them. I want to be free to be able to tell my parents how I feel about these things without being told that I’m a rebel.   

This need for freedom isn’t just a feeling, it’s a necessity. After comparing myself with people of the same age as me, I’ve realized that I am not alone. But the side I belong to is rather a huge, suppressed force, which needs empowerment. The right to freedom is every human’s birthright but why is no one talking about the shackles we as women are forced to wear in the name of “You are a woman. You should know your limits”? And I don’t even blame our respective parents for this kind of repression. I blame the society, the government and the social media for such narrow mindedness. Society is the biggest enemy for any youngster trying to live openly and fearlessly. I forbid society from telling me what I’m supposed to do and whom I’m supposed to hang out with. I can’t blame anyone more than the Government of India for the treatment we women suffer from. For God’s sake, upgrade your laws and policies for the innumerable rapists, murderers, acid-attackers, molesters and cat-callers, and do justice to the unimaginable number of victims. Only then will our parents let us go out of the house alone, fearlessly just like they never stop our brothers from going out at odd hours. And as far as social media is concerned, can you please check for facts and then allow the videos or blogs to be uploaded. You are not helping us by spreading fake news through unchecked facts, giving our parents stupid ideas through Whatsapp forwarded messages and letting anyone upload any thought on Youtube or Facebook, which is getting millions of views. Why aren’t you cross-checking for legitimate stuff and deleting the posts which are harming the viewers? When will you start enforcing strict rules against cybercrime or cyber bullying? 

I think it’s high time I am heard and I am given my rights. I can’t live like this and I speak on behalf of the many women who are being robbed off their rights to have a little fun once in a while. We are not just women, we are also humans with desires and expectations. Some of us can’t even choose to marry the guys of our choice but we find it easier to get married in the hopes that our husbands might be different from our parents, but the truth is just a probability, sometimes good, most of the times bad. I won’t say I’m waiting to get married or start earning. Rather, I’m waiting for my parents and society at large, to accept me the way I am, give me my basic rights and not question everything I do. I know one day I’ll be able to do everything I mentioned above, but why can’t I be allowed to do these things while living with my parents? Why can’t I have fun without being afraid of my parents? I want a life where the world isn’t mean to me anymore. Is one life enough to get what I want? Or is my fate too cruel to not let me achieve these things? But who am I to question fate, right?

To sum up how I feel, and why I feel the need to be free from the thousands of limitations being imposed on me daily, I’d like to quote Stephen King whose thinking resonates with mine much more than anyone I’ve known in the real-world so far.

Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.

Stephen King

Featured Image Credits: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Matrika Shukla
Matrika Shukla is currently pursuing Masters in Statistics, and lives in Prayagraj, India. She is unapologetically happy and carefree. She likes sketching, baking, and reading in her free time.

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