Saturday, February 12, 2011

Freedom's first morning

You have freedom when you're easy in your harness.
~Robert Frost

Revolutions are heady. It is many battles fought together-- for soul, for dignity, for liberty. Nothing matters more than the collective will of people. And their aspirations. You need no guns and tanks to spawn it. Courage and concord are very potent arrows. Good enough to knock down mighty powers riding high on pelf. A tyrant’s subjugation lasts only as long as the fear remains. When people loose fear, thrones shake. And eventually crumble.

There is a certain romanticism about bandying with one’s countrymen. Burning camp-fires under open skies. Huddling with friends on cold nights upon dirty pavements. Waking up groggy to a balmy sun and brushing your teeth with the index finger. Doing congregational prayers in jeans and tees and playing songs of bounty and yearning. The morning of freedom is often sweet after dark nights of injustice. Like first love.

The times, they are a-changing, the songster Bob Dylan crooned yonks back. Indeed. Times are transmogrifying. The youth are fiercely tuned in. Vigilant and unarmed, they need no leaders. The street is their battleground. Audacity is the new spokesperson. Tankfuls of soldiers are irrelevant. Egypt displayed it so beautifully. An indelible impression was cast on everyone who followed the peaceful spectacle – on TV, internet and over radio stations.

Ofcourse freedom is never free. Three hundred brave souls fell to the bullets of Mubarak’s thugs. But people remained steadfast. There is something extraordinary about the human will. It stays indomitable and unbendable in the face of great adversities. Confronted with threats and warnings, it refuses to cower down. There was confusion and false-starts in Tahrir square. Everyone wept during roadside prayers. Then like a shy bride, freedom came.

The bright, youthful citizenry of Egypt made the impossible, possible. Perhaps every generation needs to exorcise its ghosts, some of whom are imports from the past. To borrow a Jeffersonian maxim: Every generation needs a new revolution. In 2011 it is montage revolution. It happens by word-of-mouth, by mass mobilization, by text messages, by placards, over laptops and on Al-Jazeera.

When they blared wild honks in Cairo, thousands of miles away, euphoria gripped Kashmir. Like the Egyptians, we are a very emotional people. And we are subjugated. Whether or not we draw parallels betwixt Cairo and Srinagar, whether or not we manage to pull it off in our lifetimes remains to be seen.

As they say we shall see.

© Sameer