The true meaning of ‘independence’ has often been a subject of debate. When a nation becomes independent, its citizens become free to do whatever that helps in the overall development of the country. For philosophers, independence is freedom of mind and soul, while for many it is liberation of one’s thoughts and feelings. However, the true meaning of independence continues to remain vague to many.
Many choose to be independent in their own way. For them, independence is peace of mind. As the country gears up to celebrate the 73rd Independence Day, Sunday POST talks to a few people who have created their own definition of ‘independence’ and are enjoying their freedom in their own way.
Meet Bhubaneswar-based couple Vinod and Manjulata Biswal. For them, freedom means a life without mental stress. They live life on their own terms and allow their children to do the same. Unlike many parents, who regret not staying with their children, Vinod and Manjulata decided not to share the same roof as of their sons after their marriage.
Vinod, a businessman, says, “The parameters of a relationship changes as new relationships develop. I have two sons and two daughters. Before solemnising the marriage of my sons, I had made it clear to them that once they are married they can’t share the same kitchen. I wasn’t against severing ties with them but wanted them to enjoy their freedom and at the same time enjoy mine. In fact, I felt this would strengthen our relationship without one interfering in the other’s freedom.”
Manjulata, who echoes her husband’s sentiments, says that everyone has the right to freedom. “Every couple wants freedom. Being a daughter-in-law I too wanted to enjoy my freedom with husband. I wanted my son’s and daughter-in-laws to enjoy their freedom and at the same time we too didn’t want interference in our life. There are times when even parents need to take permission from children to do something. At times, you want to wake up late but can’t do that thinking what will other family members think. At times, you may want to go for a late night film show but can’t because it will disturb the sleep of others when you return. We wanted to avoid such situations,” she says.
Today, Vinod and Manjulata are leading a relaxed life in each other’s company and at the same time have allowed their children and daughter-in-laws to enjoy their freedom.
Independence, for many, is living on their own terms. Neither do they like interfering in others’ lives nor do they allow others to disrupt their freedom. For Ipsita Mishra, who stays in Bangalore, freedom means breathing free at every step and doing things without being answerable to anyone. That, however, doesn’t mean doing thing that are against the norms of society. “Freedom for me is the right to express my feelings, not worrying about being a woman when stepping out of my house but at the same time staying true to my roots,” she says.
Ipsita’s family has been struggling to find a groom for her for quite some time now. A few months ago she decided to move out of her house and stay alone without making her family members feel uncomfortable. “I am a shade obese and my family was having a tough time finding a match for me. I didn’t want to make them feel that I am a burden on them and decided to move out. I want to make a career and lead life on my own terms. I even quit my job as a HR and opted to move to another city. Today, I am free and have no complaints. Freedom for me is doing things that I believe in without feeling guilty. I am sure my family too respects my decision, as they wanted me to be happy in life. The decision of staying separate and making a career of my choice is my ultimate way of being free,” says Ipsita.
Twenty-five-year old Kuhu Patnaik, a media relations professional, too has decided not to marry. She has chosen to make a career in media and feels that marriage might come in the way of her freedom, “To me, freedom means the ability to pursue my dreams and having the privilege to choose a career that will give me satisfaction and make me happy,” she says.
Kuhu isn’t against the idea of marriage nor does she believe that marriage is an obstruction in every woman’s career. “Marriage is a personal decision. There are many successful women who are great at managing their homes. But at the same time I have also seen many women burying their dreams of making a career after marriage. I want to have my freedom and make a career. Today, I am not answerable to anyone. My parents know that I am doing good in life and are happy with my decision. I am enjoying my freedom,” she adds.
Bangalore-based author and columnist Diptilata Patra realised the real taste of freedom only after she got married. Since childhood, Diptilata was a protected child and several restrictions were imposed on her by her family members keeping in mind her safety and security. This would often make her feel like a caged bird. “My parents are caring but I have grown up under restriction. They would always keep a close watch on me, which would often make me uncomfortable. I somewhat felt that I didn’t have the freedom to do anything,” says Diptilata.
Marriage, however, changed her life forever. “I had an arranged marriage. Before marriage I would often think of the plight of many of my friends, who completely lost their freedom. I felt that life would become even more difficult for me but my husband came as a prince and freed me from the cage. I had always wanted to make a career in writing but never got the opportunity. He showed me the way and today I finally feel like a free bird, doing what I had wanted and enjoying life as I had always dreamt of. For me freedom is doing one likes without anyone’s objection and that is exactly what I am doing today,” she says.
Imran Ali, who has been campaigning against consumption of tobacco for the last 12 years, finds freedom in serving the people. “I may not be like those freedom fighters, who fought and sacrificed their lives for our country but I find freedom in doing my bit for society. I find satisfaction in doing what I do. This is my way of enjoying my freedom. I have a family but just being a dutiful husband and a responsible son made me feel guilty. No one forced me to do this. I have been campaigning against tobacco ?? by choice,” says Imran.
For Sanjukta Das, freedom lies in teaching students. “Freedom can be as small as anything from having the right to choose your career, husband or anything that you want to do,” says Sanjukta, who enjoys her freedom by teaching students.
Sanjukta could manage to find a government job despite preparing hard. It was a setback but the same day she decided to shape her own life. Today, she teaches students who want to appear for examinations and entrance tests for government jobs. “It gives me immense satisfaction. I am free and not answerable to anyone about what I do and why I do. That’s my way of enjoying my freedom,” she says.
RASHMI REKHA DAS, OP
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