Here are the results for Penguin Books India presents Born Free – What does independence mean to you? Out of the many entries that we received, these four stood out in terms of content, innovation and interpretation. Do click on the tabs below to see the top four entries and we would love to know what you feel about them.

Teenso Sattatar

– Sanyukta Iyer

I felt her breast cupped in my palm. My hand had found its way through her t-shirt and she had gladly nestled her head in the corner of my shoulder. She sat in my arms and together we heard the screams of thousands of those who were out parading below. The balcony remained silent despite the hooting and screaming. “Delhi was wise, glad they didn’t mess with us,” she smirked looking up at me and I kissed her forehead, smiling back.

“Coffee?” she asked. And before I agreed she got up, adjusted her clothes and pranced towards the kitchen.

I thought about the first time she had made me coffee. We had been best friends in college. She had always been out there – honest, un-closeted, bi.

I had always been the timid, conservative, claiming to be the helpless one.

And then she had made me coffee. Over cookies and between cups we had made love. I had worshipped her with my tongue and had dreamed of a time that I could hold her, despite all odds, despites the uncanny, unacceptable similarities.

She came back to me, two big red mugs in hand. Placing it on the small, wooden stool between us, she held her hair back and juggled it into a knot. I grabbed her by her waist and pulled her towards me. Breast against breast, lips pushed together I felt all the freedom run through my veins. I was going to grow old with the woman. Live, adopt and not be beaten.

This freedom that she, mature and gorgeous, had felt since 13 had dawned on me today and nothing I had ever wishfully thought mattered anymore.

377 had made me free.

Written By Mallika Fatehpuria

Every hue spells a new dream
Every dream leading to a new stream
The myriad days now replaced
But still nothing ever firmly placed
The path takes a new dimension
Seen through the beauty of my creation
The brush frantically puts together a few strokes
The amalgamation of colours the canvas soaks
The scenic beauty, the never expanding sea
Through my lens now you shall see
Nothing specific about the tools
No boundaries nor any laid down rules

The sound of thunderous applaud
For the hero, the princess and the fraud
The well wishes keep flowing in
For appreciating is never a sin
The now removed layers of pancake
Reveal the real that had been made so fake
The voice which was once lent
To stand up from above had been sent
Nothing specific about the tools
No boundaries nor any laid down rules

The latest article on human rights
Or a petition to overcome the fight
The warm sensation arising from a love story
Or the terror from everything so dark and gory
The ink always manages to leave behind a blotch, so rightly
And travels trespassing every boundary of society
The pen ever mightier than the sword
Helps tread along the less travelled road
Yet, nothing specific about the tools
No boundaries nor any laid down rules

Written by Akash Ghai

Today I took the Delhi metro and caught the blue line to Chandni Chowk,
Held a camera in one, a bud in the other and off I was on this leisurely walk
I wandered into each ‘gali’, they were lonely as ever
Where was the life? Where were them swindlers so clever?
An uncharacteristic air hovered about today
The paths were free, but an ill feeling disturbed my way
I clicked away but with the negativity in mind,
Sensed a man coming up to me from behind
He was an aggressive giant, who grabbed me by the hand
Snatched my camera and took his unshakable stand,
‘There’s a bandh in Delhi, why the hell are you out d***head?’
‘It’s my duty to do so’ I would have strongly said
Freedom of speech is only in theory, in reality it offends
Never mess with an enforcer, suck up, and just follow the trend
‘Sorry Sir, here’s the fine, anything else I can do for you?’
‘Shut the f*** up before I lay your body down and cut you into two!’
I walk away swiftly, using my nimble feet
Laden with the thought of a humiliating defeat
Barred from acting, devoid of unconstrained speech
Expression is my surrendered weapon, now limited is my reach
I believe free thought and action to be born of independent decrees,
But where is this independence when you speak, not without fear, write
never without censors and when your ‘independent mind’ is forced to
freeze?

Written by Shibesh Mehrotra

A stroll downtown on a sunny summer’s day

Without getting shot

Stand in Town Square and shout out what I want to say

Without getting stopped

It’s what I mean

When I say

I was born free

 

I wanna go to a place where I don’t have to state

Who’s my God

I wanna live in a country where I give my money to a poor man

Than a bloody shark

That’s what I mean

When I say

I wish I was born free

 

You say you understand where I’m coming from

(Don’t kid yourself)

You were put in chains long before me

 

A newborn kid with a shiny head

Gets cursed with chains on his baby bed

The moment he’s born

 

 

He’s buried when he’s old and dead

In a graveyard, on a flowery bed

His cursers cry but he smiles coz he’s gone

 

And that’s what happens

To you, the world

And to me

 

Coz there’s no one

Alive or dead, who could ever claim

That he was born free.