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Sep 23, 2016

Freedom: Mahapatra

Freedom by Jayanta Mahapatra
Bijay Kant Dubey

Freedom by Jayanta Mahapatra is like the Freedom essay, radio-talk delivered by G.B.Shaw on the B.B.C., London wherein the dramatist discusses it what it is freedom, who a freeman and what the attributes of it? The dramatist as an anti-thesis giver, a playwright of ideas discusses it the types of slavery, natural slavery and man-made slavery. Similar is the case with Jayanta Mahapatra who also seeks to know what it is freedom. Should it be corroborated with the independence of India and the installation of democracy? How the meaning of it varies from man to man? If freedom means something to one man it is differently to another man.

What did we promise making a tryst with India’s freedom? Today India is free, but what have we for the women, children and widows? Only false promises cannot give a strong foundation and the nation cannot progress just with the leaders’ white lies.

While delving in such an aspect, the poet takes a use of the sub-conscious and the dark conscious as because the fickle and abnormal mind of man keeps viewing and opining in its way. But when we speak, we try our best to filter such a thing and try to be social and measured in our stepping. But as far as the case of Jayanta Mahapatra is concerned, he even registers the incongruities and oddities while dispensing with the topic.

Sometimes when he watches, it appears to be that the country’s body goes floating on the river waters. Left alone he grows into a disembodied bamboo half sunk into and half flourishing on the banks. Here old widows and dying men cherish their freedom, bowing time after time in obstinate prayers.

But while on the other the children cherish to be free and dream of a world so creative and dreamy and full of imagination. The poet too wants to be with them as he opines leisurely, taking a break from his routine life or busy schedule.

Nor with the wish to know the people lying unfed and unattended in the remote villages, just with little rice to tell of what we have in the aftermath freedom these long years who even do not know it what freedom is actually. When did India become free? What in Parliament House? Who sitting then, who now? These concern them least as they have nothing to do with. He is also not there to see the uncaught, bloodies lights of sunsets catching the tall and white pillars of Parliament House.

In a temple built new, the priest enjoys liberty whereas the gods seem to be hiding in the dark like an alien. This is not the ended of the story. The poet has something more to say.

And apart from, each day he keeps looking for the light which but the shadows fail to contain in. Only freedom that he knows is the freedom of the body when it is alone. The lines are very meaningful:
Trying to find the only freedom I know,
the freedom of the body when it's alone.

The fickle mind seems to be at work; the abnormal mind. Sometimes in abnormalities lies it the kernel of a great thought is the thing here. Geniuses are found to be with the streaks of abnormality which add to really in making them great and extraordinary. The poet means to say that what we take to be something is nothing and vice versa. Freedom is not what we actually mean for. Freedom is the freedom of the body, the freedom of the soul and spirit. Freedom is the state of being free and unrestricted without any barrier and binding, where the mind goes or flies to or catches its dream and reflection. But say you, who is free? Are we? What we want, are we able to do without hindrances and hitches? Do we ever take the mind and the heart into good faith? What is human mind? How the composition of it and the reveries? Our impulses are inhibited; unrestricted.

What the abnormal mind says that too should be taken into confidence sometimes and if take we, something extraordinary we shall opine to pride over as our finding.

While elucidating freedom, Jayanta Mahapatra says that in India, the old widows and dying men cherish it, bowing in obstinate prayers. All through their lives, they remain under restrictions. The Indian widows fail to mix freely, eat and live freely. Similarly the dying men too see it as a liberation from.

Only Parliament House with the historicity and constitutionality of it cannot guarantee it freedom. Only the making of it cannot be the charter of our natural freedom. Freedom is what we take, what we believe in privately and personally. Freedom is the freedom of the mind, of the heart and the soul; of the spirit, the liberation from, complete deliverance. The unconscious mind is the screen on which figure the impressions of the heart and the soul. Impulses are the harbinger, but we need to distil them as for being social. Mark it that from the dark layer of the coalfield, is got the diamond. So is our dark consciousness from where originates it all:

Here, old widows and dying men
cherish their freedom,
bowing time after time in obstinate prayers.

Blakian innocence is childish vision and with their dream and imagination, they want to transform the world, but the hardcore realities contrasting indeed, which the children know it not that freedom lies it restricted here:

While children scream
with this desire for freedom
to transform the world
without even laying hands on it.

The freedom of the silent shale, the moonless coal, are the beds of streams of the sleeping god as he  keeps the ashes away, tries not to wear them on his forehead. Which is what, who can say?

The things of Jayanta Mahapatra’s poetry the talks of the unconscious mind.


At times, as I watch,
it seems as though my country's body
floats down somewhere on the river.

Left alone, I grow into
a half-disembodied bamboo,
its lower part sunk
into itself on the bank.

Here, old widows and dying men
cherish their freedom,
bowing time after time in obstinate prayers.

While children scream
with this desire for freedom
to transform the world
without even laying hands on it.

In my blindness, at times I fear
I'd wander back to either of them.
In order for me not to lose face,
it is necessary for me to be alone.

Not to meet the woman and her child
in that remote village in the hills
who never had even a little rice
for their one daily meal these fifty years.

And not to see the uncaught, bloodied light
of sunsets cling to the tall white columns
of Parliament House.

In the new temple man has built nearby,
the priest is the one who knows freedom,
while God hides in the dark like an alien.

And each day I keep looking for the light
shadows find excuses to keep.

Trying to find the only freedom I know,
the freedom of the body when it's alone.

The freedom of the silent shale, the moonless coal,
the beds of streams of the sleeping god.

I keep the ashes away,
try not to wear them on my forehead.

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