Liberation & Independence
These are two wonderful terms we all love to use. We like to think we are liberal in our thoughts (regardless of the interpretation of it) and we think we are independent.
I recently chatted to two of my classmates from the archaeology class. Both are young women and they work at the Central Cultural Fund office in Ratnapura. Their home is Gampaha. They are boarded in Kuruwita from where they go to work. They visit home during the weekends but with the archaeology classes, they come to Colombo for the classes. They are in effect living on their own, independent, working and studying.
An HR head of a factory was telling me how people from out of town live in the city, boarded, they have affairs regardless of if they are married or not and lead a life of their choosing. They quit jobs when they feel like it and move on to other cities when they choose.
Compare this to those of us from Colombo. Who live and work in the city or close enough to the city. We live with our parents – some of us in rooms, sections, annexes or next door to our parents (our bids for ‘independence’). Our higher studies would be completed while living at home unless it is overseas or at a university out of town. When working and studying, we would choose places that are within our reach in terms of distance. We would be driving vehicles – half paid for by our parents. We would not really know the train or bus schedules in the country. We have no need for it. Directly or indirectly our parents would influence our lives. Our food is cooked by others or supplied by Uber Eats – rarely do we provide for ourselves. Often we are compelled to ‘behave’ ourselves so that we do not ‘shame’ the family name. This is also because we live within the family domain. If we were elsewhere, we would not need to bother. Jekyll and Hyde lifestyles are the norm because we are afraid to show who we really are for fear of social condemnation.
So what of our independence? Compared to the people from out of town, we really are shackled in more ways than we can imagine. Most of it, self inflicted. We don’t want to upset the Victorian ideals poured into our heads from childhood and so we start to live a lie. But we convince ourselves we are independent coz we speak English, drive vehicles, go out at night (with a curfew) and do a job. This is not independence. We are told how to dress, told what to say and where, told when to get married and to whom, told what job we can and cannot do and told where we can go, what time and with whom.
It’s quite a subverted form of pseudo independence. And true liberation starts with the mind. Sadly that seems to be shackled in us far more than we could ever imagine. After all – liberation today is the extent of your family’s and society’s willingness to accept what boundaries you push – so are we truly free ?