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Cost of Freedom
Cost of Freedom

Cost of Freedom

khaledsaeedKhaled Saeed

Water is freedom, my mind concluded.
I guess the sub-conscious always appreciated the free motion, that easy feeling which I got from the dive in the pool. But as always, my brain was late in comprehending the subtle realities of life.

I swam for exercise, but no matter how hard I tried, I could never make myself do those long strenuous lengths, which the intense swimmers were so good at.
I played; changing strokes, shifting positions.
Diving under and buoying up. Like a Dolphin at playtime, or that Hoopoe in the air.

I was getting ready for the pool that day. As I pulled up my trousers over the swimming trunks, they knocked on the door, identified me, and I was detained.
I didn't get to know the charges. I didn't get to defend myself.
In the final analysis, it didn't matter anyway; the causes of my confinement were meaningless because the effect was essentially the same, no freedom.
I never got to learn to be a detainee, a prisoner.
I protested, I fought. Oh yes, in the beginning, I did it all.
And then settled down externally. The struggle, the dissent, a never-ending resolve limited to the soul.
Another way to survive, another mode of killing time.

I huddled in the threadbare blanket, seeking to keep warm in the cold January draught coming from between the bars.
I glanced there, trying to tell the wind to 'take it easy please, 'coz I'm innocent'.
Instead, I saw the guard with the automatic rifle.
Nature and the guard, both, ignored me.

I stared at the windowless walls, plastered with glossy pictures torn from fashion magazines. Those carefree looks, those flowing dresses. Those confident, self-assured eyes.
Luxuries of freedom!
My lightweight windbreaker bore an inscription, 'Born Free'.
My way to defy the circumstances. Like pretending to be asleep at lunchtime, eating late at night. Falling sick at head-count and calling them Mister instead of Sir.
It didn't make sense to spend my birthday and all those festival holidays in there. But it didn't really matter. Within those four walls, behind the bars, in view of the armed guard, I refuse to accept that I have lost.
Because deep inside, I am still free.

Freedom is not just to be able to walk freely and do your own thing. Freedom is also having a bucket of water and the sense of exultation in bathing from it.
It's a smile that lights up the face.
It is to feel the dark watery clouds, and bright, glorious sunshine.
To see the sunset, and to touch the first rays of the morning sun.
It is the glamour of people on glossy magazines.
Freedom is to sense the blessings of God.

Crouched silently in a corner, I admired freedom and made my own plans. Plans to buy a jeep and go on a long direction-less tour.
Drift, like an abandoned boat on lazy seas.
And yes, when I have felt the freedom to my bones and the pilgrimage to freedom gets me tired, I shall return home.
Because freedom is also meeting the people you have missed.

Bail, surety, to me is part of freedom. Not freedom itself.
Something like being served a steak without fork and knife.
After months, they took me to the Investigating Magistrate. He recommended bail.
I had previously decided that if I were not declared innocent but was just recommended bail, I would refuse it. Today, after hearing from him the words, I muttered, 'thank you’.
Why did I let my freedom precede my ego?
Is it the cost of my freedom? My ego!
It's true I deserved nothing less than an unconditional, 'not guilty' verdict. For practical reasons, bail is a hopeful step towards it.
Yet, my ego!!

I haven't slept yet I am sleepless. I haven't eaten yet I have no appetite. Steak without fork and knife?
Still, I wait for tomorrow to embrace freedom, even though partial.
What really is the price of freedom?
Maybe I have a better perception of the freedom fighters now. Sacrificing life, ego, family, everything! Fighting a seemingly lost war on some distant hope.
Like a compulsive gambler... cost of freedom!

I checked into a hotel, my first night out in more than seven months.
Shower, I needed a shower.
It was a miracle. The water actually drizzled out!
Gingerly, I put my arm in the shower. The stream continued.
I grew confident. I put my leg in. The downpour sustained.
I looked around, there was no one barring me from the act.
Taking a deep breath, I stepped in.
Like a long-lost lover, the water, passionately, embraced me.
It hugged me, it caressed me.
It kissed my eyes, my ears, my mouth and my chin.
It loved my neck and my chest, my arms and my toes.
It never stopped loving me; falling and following again.
Missing me like I had missed it. Permeating and filling me, like it had never saturated anyone before.

The intimacy overwhelmed me.
My mind whispered, 'I am free, I have freedom.'
I mumbled, 'I am wasting water, I am wasting freedom.'
Memories of incarceration flowed into my mind; the forced regimentation, that induced submission.
Then in an act of sheer defiance, I yelled, 'Anyone wanna' stop me! Anyone wanna' stop meeeeh!

I began to smile, then I laughed, and then I laughed.
And then I broke down and cried.
I wonder why?
Did I laugh at my sense of freedom?
Or did I cry for my cost of freedom?

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About The Author
Khaled Saeed
About This Story
3 Jun, 2017
Read Time
4 mins
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