Freedom is an integral part in the life of every human being. Most of us are slaves of this conservative society. Our motherland had received its freedom on 15th August 1947 but us as human beings, are we truly liberated? Freedom doesn’t really mean having the right of speech and expression. Freedom attains its true meaning when we are liberated from physical barriers as well as personal. We may attain personal freedom but we truly become free when the dark shadows surrounding our soul transform into clouds of happiness.

Such is the story of Arzoo. She was a fifteen-year-old girl of several aspirations and hopes in life. She like several children of her age had dreamt of chasing the stars. It is said that your parents are your biggest support in helping you to achieve your dreams but when your own parents stand like those cold stones then life becomes a dreadful adventure. Something happened to Arzoo which changed her life forever. At an age when students study to chase their dreams, Arzoo was draped in a red lehenga and gold ornaments. Her parents were getting her married to a man who was double her age and had his own house. Arzoo’s father had even sold off his scooter to satisfy his “Beti ki Shaadi” desires. 

Although claiming Dowry is illegal still both the families did not for once hesitate to engage in this illicit act afterall the groom has agreed to marry “ Ugly Arzoo”. Arzoo’s complexion was black, she was not that financially well settled, was fat and had two sisters. These few minor “societal stigmatized flaws” were enough for Arzoo to get married and a matter of pride for her parents for having got her ‘selected ‘ by the groom inspite of having” society disapproved traits “. To Arzoo it was a crack in her dreams but to her soul, it was just the first step of getting surrounded by a dark cloud of inferiority, body shaming.

The wedding took place with full ‘Band, Baaja and Baarat’. Everyone that day was happy except Arzoo. Sitting in the mandap she cried silently. It actually hurts when you go against your dreams and aspirations but then your parents are the two most important pillars in your life and rarely do we as children get a chance to actually do something which they want. Arzoo that day fulfilled her roles as a daughter but her personal freedom suffered a huge setback.

Arzoo left her home along with her husband. It was the first time in fifteen years of her life that she left her own territory and went into someone else’s territory. She felt a supreme force trying to gain dominance over her. It was the night of her wedding. To all girls, their wedding night is considered is to be special. As Arzoo waited for her husband to arrive several thoughts crossed her mind. Would she be accepted well in her household? Her husband came. The first thing he said was that “Mujhe ek ladka chahiye”. Then he went off to sleep. Arzoo was a little shocked. She could not believe what just happened. How could someone living in the 21st Century speak such a thing? The country where we worship Goddess Shakti is the same country where people still consider a girl child as a disgrace to the family. 

The very next day Arzoo was given a list of things she was supposed to do by her husband. Days passed, nights passed Arzoo became a monotonous housewife. Domestic violence, domination, abuse had somehow curtailed her wings of freedom. Her desires, wants, all of this took a setback. Life is not always a bed of roses but merely becoming a land of thorns is not at all desirable. Arzoo’s life was one of drudgery and broken dreams. Every moment of her life was spent in trauma. Not once did happiness graced her. It seemed as though the word ‘FREEDOM’ has completely been erased off from her life.

Days turned worse. The entire world was grappling with the spread of COVID 19. Several people lost their jobs and unfortunately, Arzoo’s husband was one of them. Days turned into months. Arzoo’s husband still not could find a job. Arzoo decided to take up matters in her own hands. Though she had been merely be enlightened in the light of education she was determined to be the ‘ Man’ of her family. Abuses, disgrace came pouring in instead of words of encouragement but Arzoo remained calm and composed. She finally got a clerical job in the government office. Life became more harder for Arzoo. She had to manage both her professional and personal life. No one was there to encourage her... no one supported her. She was torn, abused but she never gave up. Life became more of a traumatizing affair for her when she gave birth to a queer child. Her husband beated her up, she was criticized, abused but not once did she ever thought of leaving her job.

Days passed. Arzoo slowly started getting promoted. Her husband started becoming jealous of her. Her in-laws threatened to kill her if she went to her job. Arzoo’s barrier of patience disintegrated one day when her husband insulted her own parents in front of her. We always want our parents to feel proud of ourselves but when we see them getting ashamed because of us that is when emotions get the upper hand of ourselves. Such a thing happened with Arzoo. All she could see was her own parent's insult… That day Arzoo was only a daughter. She immediately took her belongings and returned to her parent’s house.

Arzoo divorced her husband and also filed a case against demand of dowry and domestic violence against her husband and in-laws. At first, Arzoo was not ready as her soul considered it to be immoral because it considered being submissive and silent to be normal but her lawyer told her only thing to think from her head, not from heart. Finally, Arzoo divorced her husband and could buy a one-room flat from her salary. She even brought her child home because Arzoo was ready to confront anything in life. She finally felt free. 

Finally ‘FREEDOM’ became an integral part of her life. Arzoo could have attained personal freedom a long time back but her soul engulfed in darkness was not yet ready to embrace freedom. It is not Arzoo’s fault. We girls are brought up in a way to always be the compromising one, adjusting one. Our emotions are always sidelined. We are brought up in such an enslaved manner that our soul becomes submissive. That is maybe we become emotionally vulnerable in several situations. Arzoo is happy today because her soul is free. Social taboos and emotions do not make her vulnerable or afraid. She is now the sun of all her darkness. She lives life on confidence and attitude. 

Arzoo has learned to embrace her qualities and flaws. She is not only financially independent but free from within. On this Independence Day let us all pledge not only to raise the tricolour to celebrate our Independent India but also raise the tricolour to mark the independence of our soul because personal freedom only comes from a free soul. Let us all indulge in the celebration of our qualities, weaknesses, talents,  and flaws because FREEDOM comes only when

‘The mind is without fear

And the Head is held high’

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