What is Freedom?
Divya Shankar
THE MAN WHO LEARNT TO FLY BUT COULD NOT LAND by Thachom Poyil Rajeevan. Translated from the original Malayalam by P.J. Mathew Hachette India, 2020, 328 pp., 450.00
June 2021, volume 45, No 6

We come to appreciate light only when the sun sets or the lamps are out. Similarly, we really come to know what freedom is when we are in jail. One day in jail would give a detainee much more insight into what freedom is than can be gained reading and listening for a lifetime outside. (p. 177)

The Man Who Learnt to Fly but Could Not Land by Thachom Poyil Rajeevan, translated by PJ Mathew, comes to us readers at the right time as we grapple with the definition of the term freedom, trying to view it through the lenses of restrictions placed in the way of realizing it fully.

When the author states in his note that, ‘It was neither from teachers nor from books that I first heard the word “freedom” and came to know about India’s freedom struggle. Born into a family of nationalists, I imbibed these terms from my familial and social environs’, it is evident he stresses on a subaltern way of understanding history, for history expands as ‘his story’, the commoner’s story.

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