We had been asked to complete an assignment. All we had to do was speak a few lines on a single question. "What is freedom?". But I could not think of any good answer. I entered the class room hoping I would somehow get a reprieve. But no sooner the class had begun I was the first to be asked to speak on the topic. I was silent. Freedom is ... those were the only two words that I could say.
Our teacher was the most respected in the entire school. It was his way of ensuring that the students do not study only for the purpose of it. He wanted each of his student to really understand what he was saying. He would never bring any book in the class nor ask us to open one. He would enter the class and start discussing the topic for the day. At the end of the class he would ask us to find at least one real world example on the same topic and speak a few lines.
Looking at my plight he smiled encouragingly and asked me to take my seat. The look on his face always comforted the other person. Although I was embarrassed I did not feel bad.
The discussion was now moving ahead. Our village was liberated from the clutch of the bandits said one. Building on the same another said our country gained freedom from the colonial powers. Yet another mentioned about the great revolutions that took place across the world. Some one pitched in about the world wars. But we were simply discussing about how freedom was attained. We were speaking about the events that led to the attainment of freedom. We were also talking about the cause of the events and about the great leaders involved. But the main question had remained unanswered. What is freedom? The answer was no where in sight. One student mentioned he had announced at his home that he could play at any time he wanted to as he was a free citizen much to our amusement. We were ready to do the same as well.
Our teacher was about to explain the meaning of freedom when one student hesitantly raised his hand to answer the question. He had been silent for a long time and had not contributed to the discussion at all. Our teacher always gave great importance to every students opinion. It did not matter if it was good or bad. He would always relate the students answer to the topic in one way or the other. It was his way to make the students feel wanted in the class.
Every one was silent. The boy was stuttering. Sir, I do not know if I had acted right or wrong but after your class yesterday I went home as fast as I could. We had a bird in our house and it was caged. I loved the bird very much. I waited until no one was around and then I opened the cage door and allowed it to fly. Our teacher was very happy. In an instance every one in the class knew what freedom was. It was such a simple and an elegant answer. Other students followed their leader's advice and freed the birds at their home. From that day we would not have any cages in our village.
I had met our leader on that day after 15 long years. He had dedicated his life to work for an organization that looked after the welfare of the special children.