On Personal Freedom

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A few years back, I was invited to a popular library in upscale Chennai one Sunday morning, to read from and discuss my first novel ‘Across Borders’.

It was a lovely – lively, interactive session, where I first read several excerpts of my novel, to a rather attentive audience; followed by a series of intelligent questions and a lot of personal perspective sharing.
After the session, over tea, coffee and lovely short eats as is usually the practice in Chennai – like at the Madras Book club events, two young women who were there with their husbands and children – approached me and told me how they were inspired by all that they just heard.
But what shocked me and what this whole narrative is about – is that they blurted, crestfallen: “You are so lucky that your husband allows you to write!”

I looked at them quizzically, and replied, “But why would I seek my husband’s permission to write? It’s my inherent right to choose my purpose in life and follow my path and I do not hand over that control to anyone to tell me what to do with my life. My husband insists – a full time corporate job is best suited to me; but that’s because he married me thinking – that’s who I am. Who I now choose to become as years go by to nurture my truest self – is completely my personal choice.”
The two women mumbled something mundane politely in reply and looking at me like I would never understand their circumstances – they moved on.

I certainly do not want to empathise with those who try to cling on to conditional and transient love, by trying to become the person their partners envision them to be and then become disillusioned when the partner’s attention wanes or waivers nevertheless. And nothing exasperates me more than those who claim to always give in – for love, to camouflage their own deep insecurities.

Then another young man came up and said his parents and extended family restricted him from writing ‘seriously’, even though he loves to read since a child and has thus been reviewing books in journals in addition to a career in corporate finance.
So the rest of the time there at the library that afternoon, though I interacted with several others politely, over the samosas, sandwiches and pakoras, I was in an irritated state of mind from these claustrophobic views.
After all, my book Across Borders, and everything else I’ve written yet, stands up tall for feminism and women’s empowerment, also the emancipation of men from age old moulds. And here I was meeting women and men for that matter, that too in a library of all places, who do not have the basic freedom to write. 🤔

It’s high time we break free, instead of cacophonously blaming men, our families, and our ancestors for our plight – because we love to manipulate men into thinking they control us, whenever we lack the confidence or will, to really do something for ourselves!

Then there is another problem, I realised since I wrote this book, in that – when a man talks or writes of women’s empowerment, he will always be lauded, appreciated and given the podium to shout out his views however shallow, second hand and hypocritical. But when
a woman wants to make powerful validating points, every effort is made – not to allow her a written or spoken voice by the so called gatekeepers of art, literary and cultural society- including other women.

We need to set ourselves free from the world’s judgements to become the truest and best version of who we were meant to be. That cannot happen with attempts to feel free by imprisonment of others opinions and feeling insecure about anyone else’s efforts, without even caring to know of their rough journey. You cannot feel truly good about yourself by putting someone else down, ignoring them, can you! True validation and integrity is in raising the bar to your own achievements instead of blaming others for the courage you lack.
— Shuvashree

“How can I set free anyone who doesn’t have the guts to stand up alone and declare his own freedom? People claim they want to be free…everybody insists that freedom is what they want the most, the most sacred and precious thing a man can possess. But that’s bullshit. People are terrified to be set free, they hold on to their chains. They fight anyone who tries to break those chains. It’s their security. How can they expect me or anyone else to set them free if they don’t really want to be free?”
— Jim Morrison.

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PS: These photos are illustrative and the people are not in any way connected to my write up. But click each to look closely – also at the group of women behind bowing to “Burger” King! 😋

#womensempowerment #workingwoman #lifecoach #inspirationalbooks #jimmorrison #motivational #authorlife #literaryfictionbooks #feminism #independence #personalfreedom #insecurities #personaltrainer #purpose #selfconfidence ##purposefulliving #poet #novelist

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“If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?”
— Emily Dickinson, Letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1870) in The Letters of Emily Dickinson/
All my books, are poetry …as far as I’m concerned…written with as much emotion if not more than poetry…Precisely why I have no qualms in friends and people I know well going absolutely silent for months after reading any of my books, especially the novels and short stories – as they are in effect prose-poetry books. Please visit my facebook author page ‘Across Borders’ for details…

#poetrty #poetrycommunity #prosepoetry #novels #authorlife #literaryfiction #shortfiction #literaryfictionauthor #novelist #books #kindlebooks #kindle

One thought on “On Personal Freedom

  1. Lovely post! I have seen various versions of this. “He is such a good guy. He ‘just’ asks me to dress in a sari. That’s all.” Or “He gives me full freedom. He only said ‘don’t be friends with her.’ The fact that we even should feel grateful for these small acts of freedom shows how deep-rooted our problems are. Freedom, is not truly free, if it has to be ‘given.’ Will read more of your works, Shuvashree.

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