This voice of freedom uttered by Chandra Shekhar Azad echoes even today and shall continue to echo forevermore. By the law of nature, we are born, and then we die. And then there are some who defy all the laws of nature and continue to live in eternity.
The year was 1906. A harsh, cold wind of British rule had swept over India, which ripped liberty’s roots off its foundations. In the midst of such havoc was born Chandra Shekhar Tiwari, who proved to be a hurricane amidst the foreign winds. His life, like the Wild West Wind, was not to be contained within the shackles of bondage. A surge of revolution possessed his body like a madman’s spirit. When he was only fifteen years old, he was captivated by the British police for participating in the non-cooperation movement led by Mahatma Gandhi.
“Your name?” Asked the Magistrate.
“Azad”, was the reply.
Beholding such boldness, the Magistrate ordered fifteen whiplashes as punishment. The wounds that were carved on Chandra Shekhar’s skin disappeared with time. The name Azad, however, was engraved evermore.
For a man like Azad, liberty was greater than life itself. His entire being was a reflection of freedom that rushed through his veins like blood. And when at last he laid cold, his deathbed turned his wedding bed, reuniting him with his bride- freedom. We are only left to wonder- was this legend born different than the rest of the Hindustanis? The answer certainly is no.
Quite well known it was to him that he shall not live to breathe the air in liberty’s land. The Chauri-Chaura incident, the Kakori Train Robbery or the assassination of Saunders, every act of rebellion stood a witness to rise of freedom alone. Such passionate efforts, he knew however, would not reap him the fruits right away. Yet he raged on- against all that tried to curb his freedom. He raged on so that he never loses his voice or power. He raged on so that his sons and daughters do not have to live the cycle of servitude. He raged on because he refused to be anyone’s trophy, porcelain doll, or piece of art. He became a revolutionary- the voice of the voiceless, the power of the powerless.
How much does it hurt to take a bullet for someone? Not much. All it needs is love. Thus, remaining true to the essence of ‘Azad’- of freedom, Chandra Shekhar shot himself dead with his last bullet, instead of surrendering himself to the British.
So many years have passed since the blood first bled to soil. So many rivers of freedom have flowed ever since, and yet sometimes it seems to us as though freedom was not hard earned. And so we might also criticize and cringe at how our nation is drifting from the path our revolutionary leaders wanted to see it traverse. But let us not forget that we belong to a nation where Azad once breathed. He was not only one of us, he still is and he shall always remain ‘us’.
With ‘Azad’ in my mind, I wanted to pen down the emotions so passionately that the paper would tear from weeping words. Yet, my ink’s justice to the verses of Azad cannot be confirmed boldly. However, one thing that can be boldly stated is the fact that as long as we have hearts that can feel the passion of freedom, he shall never be forgotten.