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August 15, 2011

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.

When I first read the topic selected by blog-a-ton for the BAT-23 contest, a twisted smile crossed my face.
The word "FREE" has held a spectra of different meanings and lessons in various phases of my life.
So when it was announced that 'free' was declared the theme we were supposed to work on, my heart flipped a beat, danced a merry jig and decided to join the bandwagon (expressions has always been its favorite, and those who read me will know how it keeps searching for new opportunities to jabber away and chew the reader's head off).

So lets go back in time...
When I was a kid, I was told that the best things in life come for FREE.
This statement somehow stuck with me all through my childhood years. It was in pre kg that i met my first friend and learnt the value of friendship. My family was my world...'home' and 'school' made up for pretty much the whole universe.
Everyone doted over me--I was thrilled. 
All the affection..the love..everything was freeeee...
So was climbing trees, swinging on slides, sliding on slides, park rides and bubble wrap---what more could a kid at that age possibly want?
I was happy, content, satisfied, and above all, convinced that "FREE" is in.
All the happiness in life did actually come for free.

This overwhelming thought however, was to stay just an ephemeral concept.
As I frolicked from my joyous childhood into my zestful youth, I realised that things were a tad bit different.
My teenage years were a learning experience.
It was in my early teens that I learned my first lesson on friendship--that friendship were actually based on give and take.
It was summer and my best friend had refused to lend me her bicycle because the class bully was offering her his stamp collection in return of the favour.
The best things in life no longer came for free---they sold out for a bunch of postage..i was disheartened!!

During my late teenage years, the definition of 'free' changed again.
I had become quite the rebel back then..fighting against the injustice of having to be answerable to parents for everything I did.
I wanted to be able to go for late night parties, movies, stay with my ear stuck to the phone, dress up in all kinds of funny clothes and wear makeup (which I now realise was so stupid and juvenile).
But back then, freedom to me meant all that.
I wished to be 'free' and though I didn't realise it back then, in pretty much the 'high on dope and rock & roll' kinda way.
Phew!! Thanks mom and dad, for being so highly patient to my temper tantrums and more for still saying 'No' to my permit for craziness. I fumed at the injustice but moved on..
"The world is not fair anyway, it does not want to see me free" I'd sulked.

and life went on...

As the years passed by, and life handed me more responsibilities to handle, I had almost stopped believing in the 'Moral Science' school teacher who had first imparted those pearls of wisdom to me.
Fairy tales became a thing of the past. Lemony Snicket was the one raising his ugly head from time to time.
I was trying my best to get into the groove of things..to carve my niche.
But life was alright because I had realised by then that just like there were true and honest people around me, there were also those who wore masks all the time.
The meaning of 'free' was changing again.

Life had taught me that there were no free lunches here. Everything came at a price.
Trusting someone came at the price of being betrayed.
Falling in love came at the cost of having your heart snapped in two.
Harboring expectations came at the risk of having them let down.
I was totally disillusioned by now---nothing in life came free after all, not even the hand-me-down's and this was just nature's way of subjecting me to a stronger reality check.

But wait, that was not it...a few years down the line and the meaning of 'free' changed again.
We all know how we all part from college life, with tears of separation and promises of keeping in touch.I did too.
But the truth is---how many of us actually manage to do that?
I got busy..and so did my friends.
We were no longer 'free' to meet up with each other..to keep in touch..to enjoy those long 'hostel' conversations we once shared in those good old college days.
Medical school had bound us together and even though we fretted and fumed about the syllabus and the stress, we were all just about 'free' enough to relate to each other..to empathise with one another..to conform.
But as soon as we bid our goodbye to our 'Alma Mater' there was something in each of us which died with time---the hope to take out time for each other. And even though we still suffer from those occasional pangs of 'nostalgia' gripping us in the gut, the rat race we are all competing in has left us with very little 'free' time to catch up over coffee.

Well, I made peace with this fact a couple of years after college.
We humans have a tendency to adjust according to situations, don't we? I resorted to keeping in touch through social networks on the world wide web.
I was aware these virtual conversations/scraps have almost zilch of the personal magic, real meet-up's and college 'gup-shup' did.
But I convinced myself that the occasional 'pokes' and pleasantries were good enough, and I had to make do with knowing that my friends were alive if not anything else.
I guess it worked both ways, they too have played truce with their busy schedule and taken comfort in the fact that I am still writing on some 'wall' somewhere.

Cut to present day--I am writing for BAT-23, something i had often wished to participate but never did.
Why? because even though I always kept abreast of the contests on this page, I never found myself in the right frame of mind to participate.
I have always been one with a passion for writing.In fact I have been doing it almost since I can even remember.
From personal diaries and journals to newspapers, mags and blogs---I have written everywhere.
Even though I have switched from one medium to another oft and on, my primary blog and confidante still remains 'nostalgic moments' whom i seek solace in confiding with.
However, I have always been quite uncomfortable in posting up melancholic posts here (though I admit, I'm pretty good at sulking) and that brings me to the reason for the unwilling participation in BAT.

Sad though it might sound, my blog which was everybody's darling and sunshine factor once upon a time, has been labelled as 'Mecca of self pity' in the past couple of years, the reason being constant taken-for-granted'ness' in something I considered one of the most important relationships in my life.
While I would lead my heart into believing it was the most precious relation anyone could share, my heart often pointed out to me the constant dissatisfaction it brought about.
Speaking to someone about it would just mean them gasping at what an ignoramus fool I am.
and staying silent would kill me from all the bottled up anger and melancholy, not to mention the frequent mood swings.

Stringing words together into cryptic thoughts and heartfelt scribbles being my sole cheer factor, the only option was to blog about it.
Blogging was my vent board, my open window, my agony aunt..whom I could turn to, and so I did!
Writing about things made me not only reflect on what had happened but it also gave a channel to pain release.
I felt better.
But the moment some comment hinted towards the slightest bit of sympathy, it angered me, added to my humiliation, clung on to the depression I was going through and made me ponder on the sorry doormat'ish' state I had been rendered.
I would then proceed to post in a superficial update just to make up for it.

I had almost stopped writing fiction because everything I wrote bordered on depression.
I had stopped participating in contests because that would just mean thousands of people reading me and the collective sympathy would just add to my already existing agony.
I had lost my wit..my natural instinct to indulge in humorous writing..not to mention, my mind!
I was caged..in a depressive mind which strived hard to prove that it could sometimes be 'manic' too (because I thought it was better to be seen as 'bipolar' than as 'chronically depressed').
It was a different thing that I almost always failed to do so.

So, hows that I'm participating in BAT today?
Well, every once in a while, there comes a day of enlightenment in everybody's life...a day which you either choose to notice or choose to ignore.
The one you choose to ignore is the one you never want to notice----out of hope, love, commitment, trust---you cling on to the blindfold you know you are wearing and refuse to take it off.
You live in dissatisfaction..in disharmony..in discontent..until one day, you cant take it anymore.
The want to escape from the pain, the hurt overwhelms you until your heart is totally enveloped by the strong urge to let go.
and then no amount of self persuasion works--because the heart has made its decision!
It wants to break free!!


Getting out of something you have emotionally given your 100% to, is not an easy task.
When I did that, I sure had my initial moments of introspection.
but looking back, I have never felt so free before.
People say they can notice it in my attitude, my writing. I know they are right. I can feel it too.
This stage of my life taught me something about relationships----that its not always about holding on..sometimes its about letting go.and that is one valuable lesson I will never forget.
.
....
........
So you see ladies and gentlemen, that is the story of my life till now and how the meaning of 'free' has changed with the meaning of 'happiness' in every phase.

I know this is not just my story..but the story of almost everyone around here.

Someday when we all break free and meet up there in a more equal world, lets catch up over coffee and talk of the best things in life which actually did come for free, but perhaps passed us by, while we were too busy in the skeptical pursuit of the 'free' lunch that we convinced ourselves, we would never have.

Until then,

Adios Amigos!

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!

52 comments:

SUB said...

hey! gr8 post...

we evolve through time, and our definition of freedom and happiness evolve with it...
the best freedom to me is the freedom of mind!

Cheers !
SUB

~Serendipity~ said...

It indeed wants to break free :)

Lovely post pri :),I see you have been blogging since 2005, I was awed at first :), and then I read you are a doctor, what else do you have in your kitty ? ;)

Someone is Special said...

Pri, Welcome to Blog-a-Ton.. A thoughtful post from your pen.. Good luck for Blog-a-Ton. Free... are we?

Someone is Special

sowmya said...

nice post :)
very lively
all the best keep smiling :)

aativas said...

We interpret 'free'dom differently at different times .. once we get what we want, we want something else .. but that is the beauty of life, otherwise we will die of boredom.

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

You know there was a poem I read while in school. I don't remember the name of the poem, but it was about a holy city in India, which had a river nearby. The poets complains how every previous poet had had the same theme how the river would dry up to a mere line in summers and flood the city in monsoons. How a pregnant mother would drown and that she had twins with no moles to distinguish from each other. And they knew the unborn children were twins even though there was no way of knowing it back then.
The irony was that the poet himself in the veil of a complaint wrote about the same thing.

Why am I telling you this? Because you said you did this to break out of what you supposedly have been doing.
Now, I don't offer sympathies, because even though I haven't read you for two years, I have read beautiful posts here, the cryptic thoughts and the posts from the funny, heart led Pri.
And if you think that you should not write in competitions because people will come and sympathize? Perhaps you are wrong, they come here to admire the creativity and often relate to it.

And yet, the best things in Life are for FREE. Your smile, laughter, they cost nothing. :)

Cheers,
Blasphemous Aesthete

Shilpa Nair said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pri said...

@ SUB
i totally agree with you, SUB..a free heart and a free mind go together..and i think i have managed to achieve quite a bit of that :)

pri said...

@ serendipity
thanks dear.
im a doctor by destiny and a wrtiter by choice :D
as for blogging, its been 9 years now..i used to blog on rediffblogs first..shifted to blogger since 2005 and have been here, since..
as for the other facets to my life and personality, stay with me as i travel this journey of thoughts, and you'd know :)
its nice of you to drop by..do visit again!

pri said...

@ someone is special
thanks and its always nice to see you read and comment here :)

pri said...

@ soumya
thanks dear..welcome to my blog :)

pri said...

@ blasphemous aesthete
naah, dont get me wrong..i never said im doing this to break out of what ive been supposedly doing/writing...
its just that my posts often reflect my frame of mind, which due to some reason had been bordering on depression..and was making me uncomfortable---because it was something i could control/get out of...

but being the highly emotional creature that i am, i often found myself incapable of breaking free because that would just mean breaking a bond that i treasured a lot...
until i realised that sometimes 'peace of mind' is all that matters..and nurturing a broken heart is a lot easier than staying caged in a weary mind all the time...
that is what i meant when i said 'it (my heart) wanted to break free!!' and it eventually did..

frankly, though it felt really tough initially, i dont regret the decision..

thanks for the kind words..you are one of those people who read me regularly (irrespective of my 'highs' and 'lows') and im proud to have you around :)
as for writing, rest assured i will always write what my heart tells me to.

///And yet, the best things in Life are for FREE. Your smile, laughter, they cost nothing. :)///
that does mean a lot to me..thankyou :)

pri said...

@ aativas
true that!! we couldn't surprise ourselves more---with experience and maturity, a lot of things change meaning :)

Sadiya Merchant said...

oh wel!
nt a gloomy agony aunt ranting bt instead i thot of it as a pretty intimate post. i mean tks a lot of guts to b so honest abt urself. im sure id nevr manage it.
kudos! n keep smilin cos i wanna wish only happiness fr u :)

The Fool said...

Nice and frank write up. Everyone would be able to relate to these feelings at some level. Also depression sometimes helps in bringing out one's best writing. My best story 'Lonely Bench' and my best poem 'The Fool' were born out of depression. However I try I can not create that kind of magic when I am in a neutral or happy mood. But I have reservations about sharing my feelings in the rawest form, naked without being cloaked behind poetry or fiction. No doubt they become very popular with readers. People do love to peer deep into other people's lives. But the question remains whether you really want to bare your heart to utter strangers. I think I am ranting too much. Let me stop. I really loved reading your write up, though.

Aashish Sood said...

Welcome to BAT.

Break free indeed!

I liked the frank narration and the straight from the heart writing style.

ATB for BAT

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

Regards
Wandering Thoughts

pri said...

@ sadiya merchant
thanks..that does mean a lot to me :)

pri said...

@ the fool
///But I have reservations about sharing my feelings in the rawest form, naked without being cloaked behind poetry or fiction.///
I did too, until now...but like i said you cant be free until you break down your inhibitions.
besides talking to strangers is always easy (if only one tries), for they are the last people to judge you.
afterall, you are just another story akin to theirs :)

wishing you luck so that you get over your inhibitions soon...

pri said...

@ asshish
thanks..good luck to you too :)

Psych Babbler™ said...

A very enjoyable post about how you've grown and how freedome too has evolved...Good luck for BAT!

Animesh Ganguly said...

Pri, I must say this...well done!!!

Liked the entire post. And you reminded me of my college days, though I know, it has only been 2 months past my farewell.

Welcome to BAT, good luck :)

Sunjoo Krishna said...

Pri,

This is an awesome post. Your post has the same theme as mine does but has many more colors and moods to it. Hats off to you! I am happy to be in such good company as far as the theme of the post goes.

P.S. BTW I have responded to your comment on my blog. Please do check it out.

pri said...

@ psyche babbler
thanks..i guess with age comes experience and with experience comes maturity (if only one is reflective about it)..we evolve and so do our definitions! :)

pri said...

@ animesh
welcome to the outside world...trust me, you would never leave your college years behind--even after saying your farewell to the institution..
a few years down the line, and you'd be too busy to think about them..but trust me, those memories would always remain---stuck to the collage of life! :)
thanks for visiting..and all the best to you too!

pri said...

@ sunjoo
thanks for the kind words :)
im glad you liked it here...

as for the 'happy to be in good company' bit, the feeling is mutual :)

over to your blog to read your reply...

Enchanta said...

True writers write for themselves, not for anything else.
These competitions only give us an opportunity to explore more avenues of our creativity and if that means going deeper and darker, so be it.

I like random rants. You can know a lot about someone through them.

All the best!

pri said...

@ enchanta
well, needless to say this is not just my rant..but something everyone must have experienced---the process is called "growing up" :)

thanks for dropping by...and good luck to you too!

the critics said...

hope the enlightenment that enriches you now stays on there forever and ever and let it shine rise up in Ur life and blog as before.....specially being a doc u should and u will never loose this enlightenment.....

it is one kind of a post.....the definition of free does change with time and status too maybe.....but real happiness always lies in love and truth....all that we seek as happiness nowadays are just painted imagery which will wash off with time..........

i enjoyed reading you...looking forward for more enjoyable posts.....sometime letting go is the best thing to do ...thats true

Swati Bhalla said...

hey.. i loved it! and indeed reading it i cud actually see those moments of my life flash infront of my eyes.. where i had my own definitions of being free and hw i was denied it.. but to think of it now i am glad they were.. because they led me to an even better place.. me in the present.. today.. anyways.. loved ur article :) all the best :)

pri said...

@ the critics
real happiness lies when the mind is at peace...until then, everything is but just a step we take in that direction, in the hope to reach there!!! :)
the truth can be subjective and love, ephemeral...but when one is at peace with himself, noone can stop you from being happy..
easier said than attained, i agree that this pursuit of happiness is a neverending one...

thanks for dropping by and more so, for the lovely comment :)

pri said...

@ swati bhalla
im glad you feel that way...life is a 'growing up' experience.and we wouldn't be what we are today had it not been for yesterday to happen.

wish you an even better tomorrow! :)

take care!

Brijender Singh said...

The more things change, the more they remain the same?

Here, i think it is apt to paraphrase the thought that has become almost a leitmotif in a lot of the posts-that if you think you are free, escape is impossible !

So live, love and laugh-everything else will fall into place ! ;)

pri said...

@ brijender singh
true that!!
the meaning of the word "free" changes with time..it keeps evolving as we grow up.
and each phase of life teaches us a new meaning...just as we think we are 'free', the word changes meaning again :)
the lessons never end--if they do, we have either stopped noticing or have stopped living...

thanks for dropping by :)

sulaiman sait said...

@ pri:- how do you actually find time amid your work loaD (of practicing medicine)to upload your blog(really admire you in that way)....!
any ways your post is awesome, well narrated too...
also thanks for commenting on my post on my blog(http://sulaimansait.blogspot.com/2011/08/evening-at-annanagar-streaking-around.html?showComment=1313694163067#c2494784411842646523)
I have started to follow your blog, would be happy if you would do the same....
Thank you

All the best for BAT

Vikram Pyati said...

A highly philosophical post... and yes, as you mentioned most of us can relate to it.
There are so many things I want to be free off too, but have not figured out a way to do so, or probably am too scared to do so.
But lately I am realizing that the best way to free oneself is to cross the river of fear. There is much more freedom on the other side.

pri said...

@ sulaiman sait
well, im a doc who believes in breaking into hiatus from time to time, to make sure the balance is maintained...
writing to me, has always been a passion--so i guess would always find time for it :)

thanks for the appreciation...and all the best to you too!

pri said...

@ vikram pyati
///But lately I am realizing that the best way to free oneself is to cross the river of fear.///
im happy for you..realisation is the first step towards freedom.
its not too far away from here :)

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nidhi said...

really lovely post yar
college ki yaad aagyi :(
really nice :)

pri said...

@ anon
thankyou :)

@ nidhi
im glad it brought back some fond memories. :)
per sirf yaad kaafi nahi hoti...manage some free time and go have a reunion :D

Ketan said...

Till now I had realised are we free...but no.. we are not free from our own self...

pri said...

@ ketan
hmmmm...

Megha said...

the difinitions of life changes during various stages of life...so does the meaning of freedom...

it's good that u took the decision and participated in blog-a-ton Cheers:)

astrosunilnomy said...

very true, there is nothing called as free lunch !

harpreet said...

a very beautiful post indeed.

kushalashok said...

It was an all-rounder. From childhood to the present scenario you portrayed the story very well. I am glad that you decided to take part! :)

pri said...

@ megha
...and our duty towards it is that we realise, learn and move on..until the time it is redefined :)

happy to be a part of blog-a-ton

cheers!

pri said...

@ astrosunilnomy
well yes, that is true to a great extent..
nothing comes free, but sometimes we are too dazed by that concept that we overlook the things that should really matter.
definitions change..so do impressions and opinions...so lets hang in there :)

take care

pri said...

@ harpreet
thankyou :)

pri said...

@ kushalashok
thanks..im happy that blog-a-ton provided us this wonderful oppurtunity which allowed me to express a whole lot of pent up feelings and lessons learnt :)

Richi Baidwan said...

Different people different perspectives is all I have to say. T'was a good read.

Priya said...

Truely said words,there's so much correlation to it as to everybody's else's life also I guess.I have been doing the same in my life.Writing ficyional depressed stories and venting out my feelings on my blog and stuff.I think I m near to be free of depression of pain but don't know when I will be truely free dear. :(