Hum Kyaa Chahte? Aazaadi!
Right. Go claim it, it’s spewing forth in profusion everywhere the gaze goes, a shower of nectar they say it is. Go have a drink of it, never mind, mahotsav hai, mana lo!
Is that a good word, though? Aazaadi? Or a safe word? It is worth a ponder and a little more. Some get felicitated for it. Some just get killed. Aazaadi is such a treacherous cry. It does different things to different people. You cry aazaadi! and you’re lauded. You cry aazaadi! and you get lammed. What is it about this word whose mahotsav they say it is?
Whatever. Doesn’t sound like a bad thing. As long as it can be had. As long as you can want it and not suffer for it. People suffer for wanting aazaadi. We know that. You know that. People suffer for wanting aazaadi for others. People suffer for wanting aazaadi for themselves. All kinds of aazaadi. Aazaadi to smile and feel unafraid to say what they feel like saying. Aazaadi to embrace who they wish to and eschew who they wish to. Aazaadi to say this is wrong. Aazaadi to say this is what is right. Aazaadi to oppose and criticise. Aazaadi to say I belong. Aazaadi to say I belong and this is how I will conduct myself. Aazaadi to be different. Aazaadi to differ. Aazaadi to choose my name. Aazaadi to choose my clothes. Aazaadi to choose what I eat. Aazaadi to pick my reading and my Book. Aazaadi to choose my God. Aazaadi to not choose any God. Aazaadi to be. Just be. Aazaadi to feel left alone. Aazaadi to not be picked upon. All or any of it, of course within the purview of the law and that fat book that got written after lots and lots of lofty debate over ideas and ways of being but which nobody cares much about these days even though for the sheer heck of it we still agree it to be our collective holy book of the way we should conduct ourselves. I do know and understand that my aazaadi to swing my arm stops where your nose begins, that’s understood. Aazaadi is not limitless; conditions apply. But they should be reasonable, naa, those conditions. It cannot be that shouting aazaadi is a good thing for one and a bad thing for another. You want aazaadi to worship your heroes, I want aazaadi to worship mine. You want aazaadi to tear into my heroes, I want aazaadi to rip into yours. Play the game fair, level the field. Then call it a mahotsav, and see what vigour we bring to the celebration of it.
They did say man is born free
And we may wish to agree
But often little remains
Save the clanging of chains.