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On Delhi streets, freedom a many splendored thing
New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS):
Published on 13 Aug. 2010 10:15 PM IST
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For some, India’s Independence Day Aug 15 is just a vignette of memories poached from television broadcasts. But for many on the streets of Delhi, “freedom” is a many splendored thing, lived from day to day, and not taken for granted.
“Freedom for me is, if I can ply my rickshaw without any hassles from the civic agencies and earn Rs.300 by evening for my family,” said 34-year-old cycle rickshaw driver Ramesh, who sails forth on the avenues of Delhi hoping to earn enough for five hungry mouths, including three children.
For 15-year-old Rimi, who sells flowers at red lights, it means much the same thing. “’Azaadi’ (freedom) is if I can sell all my flowers at the red lights and earn as much money as possible so that I can arrange food for my mother and myself,” he said.
Wearing a big smile, Shilpi, who lives in Kathputli colony near Shadipur, urges passersby to part with a little money, persistently hanging on to their shirt sleeves to sell stationery.
She has heard of ‘pandrah agast’ (Aug 15), but not surprisingly has her own interpretation of the meaning of the day. “Perhaps on that day I will sell a pencil to a ‘firang’ (foreigner) in return for dollars!” she said with a mischievous smile.
Pounding away at a nail on the sole of an upturned shoe, Ashfaq has time to ponder on the state of the country as he waits for customers at his small cobbler’s shack in a government colony. “It means the right to live. That’s it. Live and let others live as they like,” he said.
Guddu, a 24-year-old tailor in R.K. Puram, said: “Freedom for me is love. Just to spread brotherhood among the people of different castes and community. I really love all the freedom fighters and I am inspired by them as well,” he said.
Vinita, a 21-year-old student of bachelor of commerce in Delhi University, wants freedom from the stares of men while traversing the roads of the capital.
“Freedom is if men stop ogling at women in Western clothes in buses and the Metro. Eve-teasing should be stopped - that would be the greatest freedom for me,” she said.
For others, freedom is often associated with a sense of pride, whether for the country or for their own self. Kavita Nagpal, a 48-year-old homemaker and mother of five girls, has her life revolving around the ambitions of her school-bound children.
“I don’t know what freedom is, but what will get me the biggest pride is when my girls will grow up and do well. I want them to have a good job and make a name for themselves...and me,” she said shyly.
Leaning against his motorcycle, P.S. Mishra, a traffic policeman, smoked a cigarette while staring at the cars and buses drove past in one of the city’s busiest roads in Connaught Place.
“If the October Commonwealth Games go off smoothly, I will be free then... and proud that my country can pull it off,” said a smiling Mishra.

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