I had been searching for a friend of mine for over 2 decades without any luck. She was studious, bright and hard working. So I thought she must have made an awesome career and moved on in life, unlike me, an emotional fool who loves to keep people and memories together πŸ˜„.

One day, few weeks ago, I got a Whatsapp message and it was by her. She found me… What a relief it was. I was super-excited and called her up. Spoke at length about her whereabouts and life. 

She shared her pictures, her family’s pictures, pictures of her cars, big house, bungalows, flats, mansions… I was so happy and impressed β€” what a luxurious life she is living!

Suddenly I felt inferior. We, humans, are like that, aren’t we? Though with his grace, I have every comfort for a wonderful living but somewhere I wished I had more money.

Now please don’t judge me. We are living in an ambition-driven competitive world, where even to pursue the path of spirituality we need to have some basic comforts ensured so that we can work on our inner peace and for that money is really, really important.

As they say, ‘paisa khuda to nahi par khuda se kam bhi nahi’.πŸ˜‰ So somewhere I felt I was lacking.

She used to call almost everyday and talk about her life and also said I am sharing all these privileges not to show off but to let you know that I am happy.

It then struck me, why was someone making me feel that she is happy? Is she really not happy?🀨

She got married at 21 in a rich family where men work on properties and finance big projects. She is the daughter-in-law of one the most powerful person from her community. I told her how lucky she is that she doesn’t have to struggle for jobs, financial security and she has the luck by her side too.

She broke down. She said, “Dear Shalini, you are the lucky one because you are free.” And she cut the call.

I was shocked and called her up later to know if she was ok? If she needed any help? If she was safe?

Then she told me the she has no right or say in any matter. They are so rich but they don’t have any domestic help as they fear maids or drivers will loot their house. She is made to do all the household chores. She can’t step out of the house.

In the 13 years of her marriage, she never got an opportunity to travel anywhere, except to her mother’s house during summer vacations. She has to seek the permission of her father-in-law even to see a doctor. 

Her kids don’t respect her as they see her as powerless. Even for threading and wax expenses she has to ask her mother-in-law. 

She has cupboards filled with expensive dresses and all sort of jewelleries but only to be worn to display at the family functions. She can’t use the internet or computer, she had  silently cleared law entrance exam but they didn’t allow her to pursue her studies. 

I said I can come over to her house to meet if she wants, she denied saying, ‘One day I will escape from here and then I will live my life the way you are living’.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I asked myself β€” What do I need, the kind of money or house she has or the kind of freedom I have in my life now.

Even Swamiji had said in his post The Price of Freedom that the umbilical cord is snipped at the time of birth to mark our freedom, to sever our ties, to indicate that our primary relationship is with ourselves and not others. 

So freedom is that we seek but mistakenly we feel if we have more money or more comforts, we will be free. Sometimes the reality could be absolutely opposite.

How light I felt that day when I counted my blessings and the kind of freedom, respect and love I enjoy being a housewife.  

This post may not be that important for many of you but it changed my outlook towards my life and I realised how grateful I am for the freedom I have to make choices, to meet people, to use the internet, to choose the path  I want to walk on, to be independent to have a say in my kid’s matters, to buy whatever I wish to, to travel wherever I want to, and to write whatever I want to on this platformπŸ˜†

Thanks for your time. What will you choose β€” money or freedom?

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Shalini Pandey

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