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What makes you free?

I watched a popular series the other day. Yes, in just a day. If my internet speed allows it, I skip through the parts I find meandering from the storyline. For this show I could not fast forward quickly enough because I just could not handle all the preaching. It seems they wanted to unpack every issue plaguing modern Indian society. It was all a bit too much. But I can’t blame the makers of the show, they have to sell their show in much the same way that everyone else is trying to. And that’s what is part of the problem, when the objective is not to raise awareness but to sell something.


It’s the same way with social media- whether it’s a professional networking site or a photo sharing one or a mini blog one. The content is painfully same everywhere. It reminds me of the opening monologue from one of my favourite movies- Trainspotting.


“Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a f------ big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of f------ fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the f--- you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f------ junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, f----- up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future.


Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?”


Okay, it gets a bit dark there but let’s replace heroin with our general addiction to what is being spoon-fed to us. Everyone’s preaching about something and asking us to be in on it. And we ask the ones around us to be in on it too.


My mother has always been someone who’d wait for her kids or husband at the dinner table before eating herself. Sometimes we’d be out beyond the usual lunch or dinner time and come back to find that she had still not eaten. It used to frustrate us like anything. No amount of requests worked on her. One day about 2 years ago when this happened, I went on a whole spiel about feminism and empowerment and started lecturing her. She just calmly looked at me and said, “I AM empowered.” That shut me up. Here I was lecturing a woman who worked a demanding job while taking care of her family and finding time for her hobbies on a regular basis, just because she waited up for us at meal times? Covid gave me the opportunity to spend 2 years with my parents and get to know them up close. I take the lessons I learned from my mother to heart. This incident was just one of many.


Don’t get me wrong; there are pertinent societal issues and require debate in mainstream conversations. But maybe once in a while, we can take a step back and wonder whether we are thinking what others want us to and in turn, doing the thinking for others believing ourselves to be their messiahs.



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