She took a puff, a long drag…kept in her lungs till they were completely filled and smoked it out…looking at the sky! She kept looking at the night sky for a while…exhaling. It felt as if she inhaled freedom and exhaled fate...
I have known people who believe that they are free in their minds and hearts. I have had conversations about truly being free and what does it mean, but I have hardly found answers. Here, I am not talking about the academic minds trying to link it with the economic equality and human rights but recent events that have occurred around me have compelled me to pursue the sense of the topic of actual freedom at very personal level.
Being conditioned in conservative homes, many young and bright people that I know have tried to find escape routes to freedom. Philosophically speaking everything in this world is just the way we pursue it, yet the complexity behind the perseverance of freedom boggles me.
But recently I saw something that has become a photographic memory in my mind. I was on my way to Ahmednagar, travelling alone which probably gives the sense of freedom to me until the bus stops at the shady food arena that suddenly makes me conscious of being a woman. That evening, the bus was running late and it was dark by the time we reached the Dhaba. I got down to stretch my legs and experienced something like never before.
I saw a woman, probably in her mid-40s, extremely skinny, tall and dark walking towards my direction, she was dressed in a sari and wore rather bold jewelry. She had a pallu covering her head and another woman with similar description was following her. Her appearance made her look as a part of ‘Lamans’- a community of nomads. I remember being scared of them when I was a little girl.
Suddenly both of them stopped at a point away from me and the bus, the woman from the back handed over a beedi to this woman I was curious about. She took a puff, a long drag…kept in her lungs till they were completely filled and smoked it out…looking at the sky! She kept looking at the night sky for a while…exhaling. It felt as if she inhaled freedom and exhaled fate.She was in no hurry to finish that beedi.
I was stunned; I just kept looking at her. There was a sudden feeling in me of witnessing an extraordinary incident that caught me thinking. She saw me looking at her with my eyes wide open and she smiled…the next moment both the women started sharing the beedi and indulged in a conversation while I still stood there watching them.
What was her name? What she must be doing in her life? What was she doing on a dhaba near highway? The questions started splurging out of my mind and would have materialised into a conversation with her.
But suddenly the honk of the bus brought me back into reality and I was forced to occupy my seat. But I kept smiling and couldn’t gather what was making me smile.
I had just seen a woman, who probably has been treated as a matter of object, walked several miles for food and brought up in the environment beyond my imagination, enjoying a moment of freedom.
Oh yes, she looked liberated than me…
She probably went back to her normal life after smoking that beedi but got me into deep thinking process of what exactly is freedom of being…I just know that the answer does not lie in finding escape routes!
Probably in the moments that we live…and keep living…