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.
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.