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Freedom: a strange feeling

FES fellow Isra Bhat

Smiling faces, warm gestures, a cool breeze and exquisite foliage welcomed me in this beautiful part of the world. As a stranger in general and a woman in particular, I had many inhibitions and apprehensions about the country I was visiting.  Staying away from your loved ones, in a country with unfamiliar people for two long months was a big concern for me, but the place I belong to has made me resilient enough to deal with any untoward circumstances. The will to survive and the power to struggle is the gift I inherited from my motherland.

I was born, raised and brought up in Kashmir, an astoundingly beautiful place where, unfortunately, armed men in uniforms with scary knee-length boots and an unfriendly expression on their faces can be seen in every nook and corner, every lane and by-lane.

But here in Europe, for the first time in my life, I did not see a single man in uniform. People in this part of world live at ease and more importantly, breathe freely unlike in my Kashmir, where living peacefully is a sin for which the people of my motherland are repenting even today.

Freedom is a feeling that my people are unfamiliar with.  People from my part of the world are craving for freedom since the last two and a half decades. Every day, they struggle to take a new step forwards, but different circumstances and situations stop them from moving ahead.

Bonn, Germany is a place of very warm people who believe that self help is the best help and minding your own business is the best thing to do. These very qualities have inspired me to make my own way and my own decisions, where I am the best guide and support system for myself.

Here, with each passing day, a new lesson awaits me. This place has made me independent and confident enough to make my mark. Coming to Germany has given me an idea of how living without restraint feels in the real sense. I wish and pray for the people of my land that they too witness the life of liberty and sovereignty very soon.

Author: Isra Bhat

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan

Isra Bhat is a research scholar at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar. She has been awarded a two-month long fellowship by the Friedrich Ebert foundation (FES) in Germany and is currently in DW, Bonn. You can get in touch with Isra at


13.08.2013 | 13:03