I woke up to the overexcited, shrill voices and laughter of the kids in my locality. Perplexed, I moved out to my balcony to see kites in the sky.
Ah well! Today is Independence Day! I told myself.
Flying kites is a ritual people look forward to, on this day, here in Delhi. I don’t know about the historical link between the two but I relate kite flying to ‘freedom’. High up in the sky the colourful bits of paper fill me with hope. These are positive and free spirited images that I relate to .
And when a free-spirited soul like me is asked to stay home, I feel my freedom gets curtailed. Whenever I am asked to be back home before sunset or whenever I am alone in the public, I am being asked to be fearful of the night, of the darkness. But the fact is that I love the night. I love the moonlit sky. I love to just walk around and be myself. Being the wanderer that I’m, I decided to go for a different trail for my evening walk as any other day. Besides, and what better day to feel more ‘free’ and ‘independent’ than on the Independence Day?
I along with a friend went to the Satpula Lake complex, a 14th century water reservoir which is devoid of any water but has a beautiful park around. It was full of people flying kites and lots of women too. The clear sky, the moon overhead, wind blowing across and lots of people around as the night befalls. This is the sight I was dying for. I repented not carrying my camera. I wanted to capture this unusual phenomena.
We walked towards the reservoir which is a ruin the local guys use as a meeting place and playground. My friend and I were the only girls there but we were very comfortable around and didn’t feel intimidated. They minded their business and we were completely absorbed in the moment. Without the presence of people it would have been a spooky experience, I must say.
We got out of the park, started walking and took a detour from inside the lanes of Khirkee village, instead of taking the main road. Khirkee is home to migrants, labourers and corporate workers alike. Any time you wish to look for an accommodation, people would suggest not to live there because there are too many men, and it’s not ‘safe’ for a woman living on her own. It’s dirty too. They were not wrong in pointing out about the number of men considering that we found the lanes to be full of men.
On asking whether there is any other way to reach the main road, an elderly man said, “It’s not a properly constructed road, you might not like it.” But then we insisted and he guided us. There were narrow lanes and the buildings were so close that you could look into each others dwelling. We simply followed the people and we were out on the main road. We were the only women apart from one or two locals who live there. We did NOT feel unsafe at all. The men were helpful and courteous. The presence of people was a great relief.
While walking back I saw a kite entangled in a tree above. It defined the situation of women and public space for me. The rumours are like the thread that stops women from venturing out. By listening to those we propagate and reinstate fear.
To achieve freedom, I will have to feel free. I will have to come out and own the space. I will have to tell people that yes, I exist. Yes, I will take the risk. Yes, I will venture out. Why? Because I live in a free country and I am free. I am free of any burden of fear, moral and societal obligations, people’s judgements. Only then will I achieve freedom in real sense. It was my attempt to be a little more independent on Independence day. And I observed that we will have to be like the kite.
Just keep flying high, do not bother to look anywhere else!
Photo Courtesy: Pallavi