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‘I choose to be free’: On Women’s Day, a ‘brazen’ poem reminds women to live without fear or regret

‘Because freedom is not an allowance, it's mine to breathe.’

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The word “brazen” derives its meaning from brass, which is the best metal for fighting fires owing to its strength and durability. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that Aishwarya Choudhary used Brazen as the title of her poem, which is an ode to women who are unapologetically and fiercely themselves.

The 24-year-old actress and part-time poet wrote her poem (video above) keeping in mind people, specifically women, who have gathered the courage to show unabashed defiance in the face of judgement or taboo.

“I also wrote this from a personal space, to be at peace with the idea of myself,” the Mumbai-based poet told Scroll.in. “I am often misunderstood for being a little ‘too much’ or ‘too bold’ or outspoken, especially as a woman. It irked me to see how easily we are stereotyped into labels. With my poem, I want to assert that it is all right to make mistakes, to be imperfect, to not fit in, and to exist as a mess because there’s something so beautiful and graceful about a human being who is just naturally comfortable in their own skin.”

Choudhary stressed that it is equally important to talk about things that make people uncomfortable. “It’s funny,” she said, “how mentioning things like periods, sex, LGBT rights, orgasms, equal pay and representation or even having opinions is called out on or considered ‘crossing the line’. That or being trolled over something so hideously ordinary and natural like cleavage or armpit hair.”

In keeping with her personality, Choudhary’s poem is an unapologetic, defiant “no” to those trying to limit or control other people. She asserts in the poem, which was intentionally released right before Women’s Day, “I won’t apologise for [who I am], I never shall” and recites in the video:

“I choose to be free
unleashed, unbound.
I observe what I see,
I decide where to be,
I choose what I wear,
and I choose what to think.
fearlessly, without effort or worry,
I choose to be free.
Because freedom is not an allowance,
it’s mine to breathe.”

The accompanying video montages for the poem were directed by Terence Hari-Fernandes over two days in Udaipur. Hari-Fernandes told Scroll.in, “While improvising the shoot, we realised the director, associate director as well as the cinematographer were all men. We didn’t want an unintentional male gaze to interfere with the sincerity of our intent. To that effect, we decided to have Aishwarya take the camera in parts and go do her own thing in an effort to have her ‘take control of the male gaze’ and just be herself.”

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