Destiny and freewill are two different parts of the same coin. I say this because life throws at us so many unpredictable moments, for some of which, we are completely unprepared. We are caught off-guard and then in the height of despair, blame it all on our destiny. If something gets stolen, we resign to fate claiming that this was meant to be. How often do we blame our own carelessness or lopsided attitude? Maybe one in ten times.
As I write this piece I am reminded of my maternal grandmother, my memories of her are pretty scattered as we were in our early teens when she passed away suffering for long of uterine cancer. She was a woman of strong will and had the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. My grandma was free spirited woman. Deeply religious and ritual abiding, she believed in letting people live their life as per their own choices. She had lived hers like that.
Even in the face of cancer never once she gave up her dignified stance. She was always well dressed and deck up in her gold jewellery. My grandma was a freewill person and loved to rain down choicest expletives on us in Chhattisgarhi, when we irritated her in the summer afternoons. We chased after her, begging her to part with her ten paisa coins so that we could enjoy a peppermint or a tamarind rind or buy a kite or some such trivial thing and she would keep cursing us lovingly till at the end she divided the money amongst me and my cousins.
She never believed in destiny and that was the reason she fought for her life tooth and nail till the last minute before she left us. Grandma was a pillar of strength in her family. She was an anchor to which all her children were tied. It was destined for her to die suffering but in her mind, she never wavered once. She did not succumb to blaming her destiny for her suffering. Never once did she say “this was meant to be”.
She was a movie buff. When she was young, she with her brood of children would hire a cycle rickshaw to one of the 3 movie theatres and watch a film, all by herself. She was self assured and independent, which was at that age, way ahead of her time, especially in a small town of Chhattisgarh. Another of her activity which showed her free-spirited nature was playing cards; she would either play rummy with my grandfather or spend her afternoon playing cards with all her children and grandchildren. Her love for betel leaf could be seen from her tobacco stained teeth and her luxuriously decorated and always full betel leaf box. On some days, she would sit in one corner with a betel nut cracker and effortlessly cut chunks of whole betel nut into tiny chewable pieces.
During the winter months, her evening ritual was to light up the “Sigri” and keep herself warm. She was least bothered about the smoke or anything else affecting anybody. My grandma never regretted the way she lived and enjoyed life free of feeling destiny’s burden.
She had a life and she loved it dearly. In her death also, she kept smiling. She was fully aware of her last moments. She never feared anything, hence was not troubled by anything. A simple woman who had always loved her family, always believed that life has to be lived on your own terms, never once giving up when faced with challenges; my grandma is and always will be a source of inner strength for me.
Freewill is a choice. If you choose to be independent then your inner strength automatically builds up and allows you to do things, you would never think you could do. There are times when destiny has a role to play but being free of that thought gives a whole new rigour to live life like my grandma lived.
-Susmita Shroff Susmita Shroff is MBA (Finance). She is a homemaker and freelance mentor. She writes for pleasure and is a voracious reader. She is currently pursuing a creative writing course.