This year, we celebrate 73 years of freedom. What does the term ‘freedom’ really constitute?
As a child, my parents would never stop me from going out to play with my friends. I could be playing hide-and-seek, climbing trees, or leaping across walls. We had no helpers to keep a watchful eye on us or cell phones to keep a track of our whereabouts. But if I did not come home by 7:00 pm, someone from the family would surely come looking for me. I had the freedom to go out and have fun, but I had to respect my 7:00 p.m. deadline. I could go to my friends’ place, but no sleepovers, please! I could eat ice-creams, but only on weekends. I had all the freedom to fail provided I never gave up!
You may argue that, as parents, we put many restrictions on you, but these restrictions are not really restrictions – they make you realise that freedom cannot be taken for granted. Freedom is precious. Freedom is earned, like trust.
Freedom is a privilege that not many people in this world enjoy. Even the simple and carefree pleasures of life such as the freedom to decide what to eat, what to wear, what to read, where to go, what toy to buy, are not enjoyed by millions of children in this world.
Freedom is responsibility – towards others and ourselves. With the freedom of speech and expression comes the responsibility to listen. With the freedom of religion and culture comes the responsibility to respect other religions and cultures.
We can be truly free only when everyone in this world is free and happy. But we shall always have the freedom to dream about a happy, safe, and peaceful world for everyone. And then, dream some more!
Happy Independence Day. Jai Hind!
Vaishali Shroff is an award-winning children’s author based in Mumbai. The Adventures of Padma and a Blue Dinosaur is the recipient of BICW Contemporary Award 2019. The Strange Case of Nayantara is her recent novel published by Mango Books.