Akelapan and Azadi

When I read an excerpt from Aman Sethi's A Free Man in the Caravan Magazine, I was immediately drawn to his narrative style. His description of Delhi went a little more deeper than the other descriptions I had read in articles and books. Maybe, because he talked about Delhi in context of its people and not its history and buildings - old or new. The book revolves around Mohammad Ashraf, a daily labourer (dehaadi), his friends and the stories of their lives.

At one point Ashraf makes a very pertinent point about Azadi(Freedom) and Akelapan(Loneliness). You are truly free only when you are alone.
According to Ashraf, Munna's story illustrates that the life of the mazdoor is equal parts azadi and akelapan, or solitude. "Today I can be in Delhi", says Ashraf. "Tomorrow I could well be in a train halfway across the country; the day after, I can return. This is freedom that comes only from solitude. Isn't that so, Munna"
Another beautiful part is where Aman talks about the various brands of country-made liquor.
Made from the finest commonly available ingredients. Everyday liquor is not for everyone. New recruits often shun this intoxicating brew, in favour of more bombastic brands like Hulchul that shakes the very foundations of man's being.; Jalwa Spiced Country Liquor that speaks of youth, fire and passion; Toofan, infused with the pent-up vigour and vitality of an impending storm; and Ghadar Desi that is the perfect antidote to colonial oppression. Enclosed in a squarish, clear-glass bottle, the name printed across in simple bilingual lettering, Everyday makes no such promises; its prosaic name serving as a reminder of an incontrovertible truth: Everyday - for those who crave it every day, day after day.
The book grips you from its first page and even though a short one, it needs to be relished at east to really enjoy it, appreciate Aman's keen sense for detail and the keen sense of language that slowly eases you into understanding the people and situations he talks about. A must read for everyone who loves reading. In the end I leave you with another gem which gives a great insight into people's thinking.
"We will always remember you, Aman Bhai", says Lalloo, as if he doubts I will ever come back. "We won't forget you, especially how your sister went and helped poor Satish."
In my five years at Bara Tooti, it is my sister's underwear purchase that has the most resonance. Not that I admitted Satish into the hospital, or the hundreds of hours we spent together. No, all that pales in comparison to the fact that my sister - a girl! - went into a TB ward to bring underwear for a man she had never met before. "People like that are hard to find, Aman Bhai"

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