“How was it possible to imagine that one could grant freedom by imposing subjugation? that one could open a cage by pushing it inside a bigger cage?” – Amitav Ghosh, Glass Palace
The Glass Palace is a story which is about the struggles of families living in Burma and India under the British rule. In exchange for the sovereignty of the land, the local people gained in terms of increased trade and security in the region and that made them “freer” in some ways. But really, how is it possible that one can grant freedom by imposing subjugation? How is it that people could open the door to their cage on their own accord and allow themselves into a bigger cage with greater complexities and fewer rights?
But in the imperfect world that we live in, that is perfectly plausible and reasonable. I caught myself doing that and I know many people around me who are doing exactly the same thing as well. We surrender ourselves and give ourselves up to a bigger “cage” that we understand very little about because the gratification of freedom is too captivating. In essence, we give up a bigger freedom for the sake of pursuing a smaller freedom. Is it worth it? We don’t know but all we know is that we cannot get back into that smaller cage anymore.
And so we continue to fly within the boundaries and we do so as carefully as we could so as not to hit our heads against the metal frame of the cage. We have made the trade and so the least we can do for ourselves (and for the others who did not manage to leave the smaller cage) is to remember the reasons why we flew through that door.