Whenever someone asked me what ‘being free’ meant to me, I used to give them a standard reply, “The day I start earning and be able to take my decisions on my own without any parental or societal obligations, I would feel free.” But 15th august 2014, has completely changed this definition.
When the whole nation celebrated 67 years of colonial independence, Kat parivaar celebrated Azaadi in the red light area of the capital. It had started out as someone else’s dream but being a part of the process of execution of that dream has its own set of advantages.
It was my very first project at Kat. And though I thought that my past experience of organizing such an event would prove to be a boon, I was totally wrong. Every place has its own characteristics and I had absolutely no clue about the intricacies of this place and the people who live here.
When I had first walked down the pavement of G.B. road, I was nervous. It was not only because that road had a stigma attached to it but because I rarely saw any women in that entire area and that, in turn magnified the intensity of that stigma. People keep staring at you as you walk by. That was the first time that I had lost a part of my confidence. I was afraid of walking alone on that road. I felt trapped in my own web of perceptions that had juggled up in my mind. It knows what is right, but still reacts to what has been fed to it since time unknown.
The second challenge that arrived quite soon was the difficulty in understanding the differences in expectations that people had from this carnival. Time constraints never allowed everyone to come together and lesser successful outcomes at times had only increased the skepticism about the whole event.
Nevertheless as the days passed by, things started taking shape. That’s what they told me about Kat-Katha, “There’s some magic here that sets everything right in the end.” I could see that magic taking a shape. It was less than a week for Kat-kalrav, and the team had started spreading its aura everywhere on G.B. road. We painted the G.B. walls together, invited every shop on the road to be a part of it. The most excited were the kids who made all the efforts to make it the best day for the didis and other kids who live here.
15th august was madness for me, as it was for every volunteer who was a part of this team. But still, I remember each and every moment of it. I remember the happiness that existed at each corner of the tent, I remember the smiles on the face of didis and kids as they danced freely on the stage, I remember the tears of joy that trickled down the faces of so many who made it happen.
And now, after almost a month, when I think about Kat-Kalrav, I feel it was a start of a revolution in true sense. It was a revolution that not only brought a positive change in the lives of didis and kids for some time, but also brought about a transformation in our hearts and minds. I found love and acceptance there and it answered all my fears and worries. It left me with a deep feeling of belonging to that place. And now when you ask me what freedom means to me, I’d say, “Freedom is being able to do whatever you want to do without the fear of being suppressed or the fear of failing or being judged. The day I overpower all my fears, I’ll be free.”
– Divya Gupta