Feed on

The Cost of Freedom

“And truth is like death in that it kills. When I killed I did it with truth not with a knife. That is why they are afraid and in a hurry to execute me. They do not fear my knife. It is my truth which frightens them. This fearful truth gives me great strength. It protects me from fearing death, or life, or hunger, or nakedness, or destruction. It is this fearful truth which prevents me from fearing the brutality of rulers and policemen.”

In this extract of Woman at Point Zero, Firdaus offers a definition of freedom — at least her own definition of freedom, which arises from her background, her culture, and what she stands for.

Her freedom doesn’t come from the fact that she killed a man, nor from the fact that she has been a “volunteer” prostitute — and a good one, as she says. It comes from her liberation from all type of fears. In her culture, the place of the woman is really defined, and it’s like being in a jail — a golden one sometimes, but still a jail. What the book is showing us is that to be free, she needed to cast off a lot of cultural habits and traditions. She needed to process what happened in her life and learn how to deal with it.

The only way to get out from this condition seems to be, by the end of the novel, what Firdaus has done because, as she says, her action is not a murder, it is not a crime. She is just expressing her freedom by killing the criminal represented by this one man. She just acted for justice and not as a criminal. She sets herself free by this act, and the narrator in the last line confirms that freedom when she says, “And at that moment I realized that Firdaus had more courage than I.”

The “crime” is not only to kill a man. It is to make men feel the fear of someone who doesn’t feel it anymore. They fear a woman who can’t stand anymore being treated as a well and being owned by men during all her life. She takes herself back from all of them; she becomes independent and no longer has to compromise her freedom with any man. By this act, she is not only killing a man, but she is also disturbing a whole culture, and it takes a lot of courage, probably a bit of foolishness too. But after I finished reading this novel, the question that emerges is: Who is the most foolish? The ones who are accepting this condition or the one who is fighting against it not matter the result?

This novel reminds a lot of a line from a song: “I don’t feel pain anymore, guess what? I feel free.” Because there is nothing more dangerous than someone who has nothing to lose. That is what Firdaus represents, and no matter if she really exists or if her character is pure fiction, this story is giving us a lot to reflect on and proves once again that literature has no boundaries. We are not experiencing the same things as Firdaus, but we can ask ourselves these questions: Am I free? Can I stand up for what I believe in? Do my fears paralyze me? Am I willing to pay the cost of my freedom? And more than anything else, what does it mean to be free?

Comments are closed.