I haven’t been able to post since the dawn of March due to an illness and other unforeseen circumstances. All the while I was away, I was brainstorming post ideas. Many of them were interesting and I’m pretty sure I’ll flesh them out soon, but only one made me think twice about writing it, for it wasn’t a ‘safe’ idea. The more I thought about it, the more it struck me as odd because I didn’t feel comfortable talking about whatever struck my fancy on my own blog. I’ve always been a cautious person and deep in my heart I can still sense a certain reluctance warring with my bolder side, begging me to reconsider.
I’ve been reflecting on many things lately, mostly centring on the masks we wear every day. I would be lying outright if I said I didn’t do that too. It’s a necessary part of living in a rigid, judgemental society. A few times that I have been myself has earned me so much scorn and hate that I’ve learned to conform. I’ve silenced myself on so many occasions when I should’ve spoken out. While I wholeheartedly agree that complete freedom would undo the fragile fabric that holds human beings together, suppression isn’t good for the soul either.
One such issue that still bothers me is sexism under the guise of humour. I did raise an objection in one group and all I got in return was more sexist jokes designed specifically to goad me into retaliating. Of course, I was forced to keep my head down and weather it till the novelty of it wore off. What is the power of a lone voice against a sea of contrary views? None, it would seem. While the example I have given may sound trivial, from that day onward I stopped identifying myself as a feminist in public.
Fear is essential to survival. Without it, we as a race would have perished long ago. However, fear of being stereotyped, ridiculed, shamed and persecuted for being true to oneself is a fundamental violation of personal freedom. Every day, incidents of such nature take place and many go unrecognised, let alone reported. It is that fear that is holding us back, a product of hate and prejudice, the evidence of our lack of evolution from our murky history. But for everyone who has ever thought I need to be “corrected” for being a woman, an independent thinker, a confident driver, a vegetarian, a teetotaller, a bibliophile or any other aspect of myself, I have only this to say – I am not sorry for being who I am.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
– Rabindranath Tagore