While we Indians celebrate Independence Day, a spirited discussion began between like-minded writers like myself which was triggered by a question posed by one among us – what does Independence mean to you?

Answers began to pour in, it is after all one of those questions where neither anyone is right nor anyone is wrong. Each answer made me think, and then think some more.

The question had triggered a veritable storm inside me. Try as I might, my interpretation of independence escaped my grasp like dandelion flying away in the wind. My reaction to the question amused, shocked, infuriated and angered me in alternate waves of emotion. As you read this, truly try to answer this question and you might experience what I experienced!

After some hours of this subconscious crazy processing, I hit the root of my inability to define what Independence meant to me.

You see, I'm not independent. And from where I stand, none of us are. Not really.

We are free to choose our friends. But family… family is a whole other ball game. We are born into it or adopted into it. And after that family restricts our independence in a way that friends never can.

It seems like the last laugh, the ultimate lottery of life.

I came to a very sobering realization with a shock. This freedom I enjoyed to take my own decisions, this independence I enjoyed to write, explore my creativity, choose my line of work – everything came from one big dependence – the fact that my family, the one I was born into and the one I married into, both understood and respected my decisions and in doing so granted me the freedom to take my decisions.

So while some of us are privileged enough to be part of such families, there are many others who live repressed and unfulfilled lives because their families simply don't understand them or even acknowledge the need to grant each other freedom of thought, expression, life itself.

I'm not sure what is the fix. Maybe it's as simple as saying – "I respect and trust you enough to let you do what you need to do to feel free and fulfilled in life." Maybe it's just a matter of independence versus in-dependence.

Author's note: this is purely the author's interpretation of independence. No disrespect is meant to those among us who manage to find other paths to achieve the same goal.

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