What is it like to taste a “foreign” freedom..

“Foreign” Freedom. What is that? Why do I call it “foreign”?

I have been living in Germany since the past two months now. This is not my first stay abroad. Before this I have lived in Germany twice in 2009 for almost an year and then for a month in Bangkok in 2011. I tasted this “foreign” freedom for the first time in 2009 when I was in Berlin. That feeling that you can actually take a walk at any time of the day and no body isn’t even going to look at you, let alone eve-tease you or sexually harass you elated me. I could do whatever I want and wear what I felt like. I didn’t have to worry about my security or ask any one to drop me home safely as it got late. I was independent in the true sense of the word.

But, this post is not about how much I enjoyed my foreign stays and how I would rather stay in Germany than India. It is actually the opposite. Many have asked me why I don’t want to stay in Germany. Some say I’m a fool not to use this opportunity to flee from that pathetic land. True I love my life here, but it somehow just doesn’t feel right, it is bitter-sweet. It is like you’re in Disneyland with your most favourite toy, but deep down inside you know it, that you don’t own that toy, that it doesn’t belong to you. That you don’t feel at home here. And that is why I call this freedom “foreign”. Not because I experienced it in foreign countries, but because I don’t identify myself with this freedom. I don’t want to travel 9000 kilometres to freely take a walk at night. I want to do it right here in my own land, my own home town, the place where I grew up and the place I identify myself with.

I know many people (which includes women as well as men) migrate to other countries to flee from oppression they experience in their own. But I don’t see it as a solution. Yes, it is a individual-based solution, but not a mass-based. It is the same logic as behind Brain- Drain. You get a job, you fly abroad, you become a NRI and then whine about how shitty your country is and how well you are doing here. I don’t want to be the kind of woman who writes about women’s issues from her Mac sitting in a cosy Café and enjoying the weather. I would rather do that in my own land and see to it that every woman can do that irrespective of where they are, be it the West or the East.

I don’t want to run away or avoid this situation, I want to change it. Many of you might view this as being patriotic or revolutionary. I’m none of that. I just want to live my life and do what I want to do. Some people call that rebellion, especially if you are a woman.

I won’t hide. I will seek. I will seek the change, the freedom, the fight.

I am not giving up, I have just started fighting and I will fight till the very end.

colorful change 1 copy

Sum Total

One Indian woman

Plus

a feminist

Minus

a fair, homely, beautiful eligible girl

Plus

determined and strong opinionated

Minus

tall, slim and a slender figure

Plus

independent and a critical-thinker

Minus

traditional, cultured, well-mannered and modest

Plus

anti-patriarchal and anti-misogyny

Minus

submissive, docile, adjusting home-maker

Plus

fearless and honest

Minus

faithful and God-fearing

Plus

rational and practical

Minus

a “abla naari”

Divided by

nothing

Multiplied by

a strong desire to fight back and live

sums me up.

P.S. This post has been inspired from a film by Sonali. Original title of the film is “Sum Total. A Matrimonial” . Sonali is an activist and filmmaker who has made several films including Sum Total and Barefeet.

Disclaimer: This poem has also been published on Women’s Web and The Alternative.