Oh, I feel so free…

By Paula Ratiu. Paula, 21, is a student in Romania. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Liberty. A question hidden in a word, simply because it opens all possibilities. Or does it? Are we ever totally free? Can we ever completely choose for ourselves? Are we ever able to 100% assure children that there will be a future after this moment?

I think not. And the poet Warsan Shire sadly emphasizes this truth in ‘Home’. A concept each individual is familiar to and onto which every person can project his/hers definition. But a word which, in this poem, means not the safest place on earth, but the most dangerous one. The parent talking in the verses ‘you have to understand, / that no one puts their children in a boat/ unless it is safer than the land’ is the parent who has the liberty to free a child and to offer the child a chance. This parent gives a child to the water. The same water in the photos posted on Instagram, the same water which ensures life, the same water which has been analyzed by critics as a motif representing freedom and infinite options in the greatest literary works of all times. The land is the same land which Cristopher Columbus remains in history books for, the same land which makes the passengers on a plane applaud when touching the earth, the same land which the trees that keep us alive nurture. Such familiar concepts gain new identities when one has the freedom to fear them. And the liberty of fear is the liberty we all possess. And it is a fact that we all love to possess and to have liberties.

One liberty which has been always impossible to resist by some men is a liberty which is emphasized by one of the poets of my country, Geo Dumitrescu, in one of his poems with the title ‘The liberty of shooting with a gun’. It is a poem depicting the atrocities of war and the liberties that soldiers have in war: the liberty of killing a person, the liberty of crying with your mates, the liberty to desert. There, people become ‘armed friends’ who rest on tombstones and smoke cigarettes while looking at a big loaf of sky being loaded with airplanes gazing upon them with grenades. We study this at university, probably because too much freedom seems unbearable for a high-school student. But you cannot say that those men were not free. This poet was free to write this and as a consequence to be held in prison and tortured by political forces. This artist was free to pay for his vision with his blood. This man was free to leave the country in exile and never see his family. And the soldiers? What freedom could be greater than to die for your country, for your people? What liberty could you choose over honorably killing other honorable young men who smoke cigarettes just like you and who had the same liberties, just like you? Freedom? Shooting with a gun a man standing in front of you with the same dreams as you.

But maybe the most daily seen liberty of all for me is the one of the mothers in my country who leave their children with their grandparents and go abroad to take care of the elderly who have the liberty to be cared for by a foreigner rather than their relatives. They often go by plane. The plane in the sky, an emblematic imagine of movement, of freedom. The weekly cheque coming from the mother and her face on a screen alongside the old person she takes care of instead of you. Liberty at its finest. What is more representative to freedom than to fly to your mother 10 days in a year and receive her presents on Christmas with delay, because everybody at the post-office is free on holidays? Putting yourself in a boat and leaving your children home when water cannot live with the sand anymore. That, my friend, is liberty.

Don’t you recognize it? Don’t you reckon the places you feel you know so well? It is strange to meet the liberty in the many identities taken by places when no longer the same, isn’t it? It is funny to read a text mostly composed of questions because of the insecurity given by freedom to words, isn’t it? I have that liberty.

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