Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Monday, August 15, 2011

138. Free

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 23; the twenty-third edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for this month is FREE.
‘Freedom is not Free, it demands high price; those who pay the price only are FREE’, KaNikaa is thinking to herself. She knows why she is thinking so.

KaNikaa finds the words written by Shankaraachaarya very precious and most wonderful; they always take her Beyond. Especially when the sun sets down, one more day is over -keeping the enigma of life unsolved, listening to NirvaaNaSHaTakam is an ultimate luxury.

KaNikaa feels at complete peace once again. Sitting in the lap of peeple tree, with the breeze playing around her and the sea waves dancing to the unknown tune, she is feeling ONE with the Universe.

Slowly the lights fade away, the darkness envelopes the surrounding. No words spoken; only silence everywhere – within and without. As if the world has died, as if the world is going to be created again….

For a moment KaNikaa thinks she is completely free.
“Deedee, KaNikaa Deedee, Vishwambhara bhayaa wants to speak to you,” someone is calling KaNikaa. She comes back to her senses. Call from Vishwambhara could mean only one thing, another warning. This could probably be the last one. KaNikaa gets up with heavy heart, all the peace and the happiness draining away from her.

“KaNikaa Deedee, you have missed the prayer again. Not because you were working, but because you were just lazing around. This would not do. You are setting a wrong example to young disciples.” Vishwambhara speaks calmly.  

“Come on Vishwambhara; can this discussion not happen some other time? Is this discussion at all necessary? KaNikaa came here long before you all came, Swaameejee himself brought her here. Swaameejee never asked KaNikaa any questions, neither he demanded her to follow rules" ANNaajee is  trying to help KaNikaa, but he actually is making  things worse for her.

“ANNaajee, how many times I have to tell you ALL that I have nothing against KaNikaa Deedee!, In fact I respect her, I have learnt a lot from her. Swaameejee was a very kind person. I am neither so kind, nor that much powerful. To manage this Aashrama in the best possible way is my primary responsibility.”  Vishwambhara’s voice is restrained, but KaNikaa understands the threat very clearly.

“No problem, Vishwambhara, I understand your plight, I will do whatever is required in the best interest of Aashrama”, KaNikaa says calmly. That alarms Vishwambhara as well as ANNaajee. But today, Vishwambhara is determined. KaNikaa is free, but he is not. He has enough of KaNikaa’s freedom.

Vishwambhara adds, “Deedee, kindly look at the things from my perspective and I am sure you will appreciate what I am saying. You have a choice either to stay or not to stay here. I would want you to stay with us. However let me make it clear one last time, if you stay here, you have to follow the rules…nobody is exception here...” and he walks away painfully, clearly demonstrating the burden he carries on his young shoulders.

“After all I am not free as I assume, miles to go before I achieve that” KaNikaa tells herself.

The pendulum of ‘being Free’ and ‘not being Free’ oscillates continuously.

When had the story of these two shores begun? From when did the uncertainty changed into certainty to bring in uncertainty again?

KaNikaa was too young – maybe 9 or 10. She was sitting in a temple, which God it was she did not know. The evening Aaratee was over and the crowd had disappeared one by one. She had nowhere to go and did not know what to do.

Her mother had died four years ago. Grandma was staying with them but she too passed away six months ago. Recently her father was behaving very strangely and she was scared of him. He had always loved her; no doubt about it. However, lately the way he fondled her was making her very repulsive towards him. She was frightened to death. But whom would she tell? What to tell? To complain about father who was so kind and loving would be a crime. Was it her father’s fault? Or was she imagining things about him? Was she guilty?

Until day before, everything was still ok, under control. But the way her father looked at her on that fateful morning made her shiver to the bones. She knew something was totally wrong – either with her or with her father. She did not want to go back to her home where she would be alone with her father whole night. So, when father left for office, KaNikaa left for school, but never went to school. Instead, she caught a bus and reached the District town. Near the bus stand, there was this temple and she was sitting there aimlessly.

“My child, don’t you want to go home? It is already late”, a strange old man was talking to KaNikaa. She was initially alarmed but was calmed down by his peaceful and smiling face. “I am nobody’s child; I am free to do whatever I want; and who are you?” KaNikaa asked so many questions. The strange old man smiled again. He asked, “Sorry, how should I address you?” And KaNikaa rudely said, “My name is KaNikaa. No more questions.”

The man sat silently with her. Couple of devotees came late to the temple and bowed to that man with respect. One came to call him for food – he asked KaNikaa to join. KaNikaa was too hungry to resist that offer. That strange man offered his hand to KaNikaa, and she with blind trust went with him. She never had to regret that decision. They went on moving from place to place and finally reached his Aashrama in the southern corner of the country.

Initially KaNikaa was worried that her father would find her out and she would have to go back. But she went on traveling to strange places, stayed in strange environment, always protected by Swaameejee. Days passed, months passed and KaNikaa became sure that her father had lost her forever. 

KaNikaa had felt that she was free at last; from her father; from her past; from her fear; from the insecurity; from potential ugliness; from her deadly life.

Swaameejee never asked KaNikaa any question and she never bothered to explain. There was a tacit agreement between them. KaNikaa was amongst people but she was left alone whenever she desired so.

It was only once Swaameejee broke his silence on the topic. He addressed her as “my child” on which she just smiled. She was no more oversensitive about those words. He said, “KaNikaa, my child, I love you. But what worries me is that you carry the burden alone in your heart. By running away, you have not solved the problem, you have just postponed it. I would like you to be brave and face whatever scares you. The freedom you enjoy is artificial, you are not free! The impact still lingers on you – on your body, on your emotions, on your feelings, on your thought process. That is another kind of bondage; I wish you were free from that. However, you have never really tried.” And then he mischievously added, “to be free from others is comparatively easy, to be free from ourselves is the real challenge…”

KaNikaa very well understood what Swaameejee was talking about. She wondered why Swaameejee was suddenly worried about her. She decided to talk to him later; but it could never happen. Within a week after that particular conversation, Swaameejee passed away.

KaNikaa was not after all free to choose her moment.

KaNikaa knows, she does not belong to the Aashrama – its rituals are cowardice and stupidity according to her. Her binding with Swaameejee was the connecting thread so far. She has been always wondering why Swaameejee chose to be amongst such fearful, irrational people. Maybe, he was not free to choose his disciples. She has no other choice but to leave the Aashrama. It would be good for the Aashrama and also for her. . And when one wants to leave, one should not wait for the right moment; there is never a right moment – or leave immediately because every moment is right moment.

Indirectly KaNikaa is compelled to leave Aashrama. She realizes that she is not completely free to take decisions according to her choice.


“Madam, have sweets” her co-passenger is all smiles.
“Thanks, what are we celebrating?” she politely asks.
“You seem to have arrived from another planet,” someone teases her and everybody around laughs merrily.
“Today is our Independence Day Madam, how can you forget it….” Another one remarks with irritating look.

“What are you celebrating guys? Corruption? Scams? Inflation? Poverty? Discrimination? Exploitation? Crime? Riots? Recession? What?" another person explodes.

“But isn’t it good that we are free?” one more passenger joins the conversation.

“We are free from British Empire, but we are suffering from our own weaknesses. We are cowards, we are beggars, we choose the easy way out, we want success by shortcut, we are power hungry, we talk the language of soul but we are materialistic to the core….” Another person laments.

“We are free from outsiders, but we are bound by evils within, not free from its clutches…” another voice.
Everybody agrees.

KaNikaa remembers Swaameejee. His last remarks to her: “to be free from others is comparatively easy; to be free from ourselves is the real challenge…”

In a strange way KaNikaa understands that her destiny, her freedom is associated with destiny of others, freedom of others.  To be Free is not to be ‘away’ from something, but to be connected in a detached way. To fight social evils, to try to support poor and exploited, to lead from the front, are all aspects of this detached involvement.

‘Freedom is not Free, it demands high price; those who pay the price only are FREE’, KaNikaa thinks again and smiles with determination.

Yes, KaNikaa probably would be Free in this very life. 
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Happy Independence Day!


  1. aativas..you are back with a bang.. Kanikaa character was powerful.. The way Swaameejee took care of her shows that humanity still exists.. and finally Swaameejee quotes, “to be free from others is comparatively easy; to be free from ourselves is the real challenge…” is awesome.. The way you ended the story is superb.. I liked it a lot.. Good luck for Blog-a-Ton. Free... are we?

    Someone is Special

  2. SiS, Glad to know that you liked the story.

  3. I liked the story. But, I did not understood the concept of detached involvement. You mean, free from any prejudice and threads and yet supporting and working for a cause?

    I liked the structure of the story and its smooth motion..


  4. You have built a strong character. Always your stories run deep. I have always liked your stories. I am happy you at last got recognition last Blog-a-ton

  5. Kunaljee, welcome to Times Change. Thanks for your response. By detached involvement I mean: to be involved as if it is the matter of life and death; but to remain detached from results (pain, sorrow, rewards, recognition etc.) Did I confuse you more by this explanation?

    The Fool, thanks for your constant support and encouragement. Response of readers like you matters to me more than I have expressed :-)

  6. Indeed it is very difficult to be free of one's own self... to be free of self imposed restrictions...

    ATB for BAT

    Do check out my entry at Free? To do what exactly?

    Wandering Thoughts

  7. Nice read. You seemed to want to bring in every element of freedom in it altogether. I think you did that well enough.
    True, being free from our own demons takes so much more effort than being free from someone else.
    All the best for BAT.

  8. Thanks Aashishjee.

    D2, glad to have you here after a long time.

  9. How many of us understand the concept of Freedom? We believe we are free to do whatever we want because its our life, but when we are into it do we realize that so many things and so many people are involved in our freedom. That's why we become cowards and hypocrites.
    Well developed concept and an interesting read.

  10. A very good message.. you cannot be free by running away from things. The more you run away, the more they chase you.

  11. Cherry Blossom, is it because (hu)man is a social animal? It is because we can't enjoy being alone? I am not sure!

    Vikramjee, that is in nutshell indeed!

  12. reallllllllyy too good...the way character has been desrcibed, the humanity, the ending makes it a very good read...great story :)
    my entry.. FREE

  13. it took me some time reading it but i should say i relished it,...when are we going to release ourselves and achieve real freedom ...are we really free from from inside and can we really be so.....?..


    here is mine

    The search for eternal freedom – A Dragonfly’s curse

  14. nice!
    i liked hw the story converged wid d present day situation.

    tho d same independenc theme was repeated many times this season, i found urs to b d most profound wid very neatly structured n well presented thoughts :-)

  15. you just killed me with that story! perrrfect!
    it brought together all the things that were running wild across my mind and put them in neat order!

  16. Thanks Nidhi for your encouraging words.

    the critics, hmm.. I tend to write longish stories ..can't keep it brief :-). Glad you have the patience to go through it!

    Sadiya, independence = free was rather too obvious!! Thanks for the compliments.

    Anoo, OMG! Don't want to kill .. not even with words! But I understand what you mean :-)

  17. Very profound. Somewhat like Krishna telling Arjun that the only one who is at peace is the one who becomes the master of his own mind.
    Easy to say, very hard to do.
    I like the eclectic mix that your blog has to offer upon each subsequent visit.
    ATB for BATOM.

  18. Brijender jee, "Easy to tell, hard to do" - I completely agree with you.

  19. the first step to freedom lies in confrontation...be it with others or with the self.
    loved the message put forth through this piece :)

    and all the very best for BAT!

    you can read my entry here---

  20. This was a fresh plot...nice..keep writing :)
    All the best for Blog-a-ton!!

  21. pri and Megha, welcome to Times Change and thanks for taking time to read the longish story and sharing your response.

  22. liked the characterizations very much. n a thought-provoking message too
    m glad to have come here

  23. Sujathajee, welcome to Times Change ad thanks for your encouraging words.Hope you will keep coming here :-)


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