The Caged Lioness
The Caged Lioness6 mins 1.0K 6 mins 1.0K
First, her father put her in a cage,
To keep her safe until her marriage.
Then her husband tightened the lock,
Freeing her would make him his family’s laughing stock!
She remained in her cage,
Thinking it was her stage,
To perform and act,
According to society’s pact!
Someone showed her a mirror one day,
She was awed by what she saw that day,
She realized she had the strength and prowess,
Of a powerful and strong lioness!
Savitri was born into a middle-class family, the elder of two siblings. Her younger brother, Rakesh, was born after years of praying to the family deity for a son.
Her mother was kind, gentle, and helpless. Her father was a strict disciplinarian. No one dared to counter his views. For him, Savitri was a burden to be fed and kept safe until he could pass her on to a suitable groom. His son was the one who would carry on the flame of the family’s lamp.
So, even though Savitri excelled at school, her father discontinued her education after the basic secondary level. Her father was reluctant to let her continue even up to the secondary education level because he was scared of her escaping from the cage and spoiling his family’s reputation.
But, because his neighbour, Mr. Mehta, told him in a complaining voice, “These days, grooms want at least a secondary education so that the children can be taught at home. Make sure Savitri completes this level, otherwise you’ll have a problem getting her married.”
She was married off to the first man who came knocking on the door. She was put in a beautifully adorned and painted cage and was transported to her husband’s house when another cage awaited her. She was let out of the cage only to cook, clean, have babies, look after the children and the elders. She didn't dare venture out into the world on her own except for absolutely essential things, and that too, only after taking permission.
Savitri had two daughters, Sita and Lakshmi. She had a complication when she delivered Lakshmi and her uterus had to be removed. She was cursed because of not being able to bear a son. She bore everything silently. She was as helpless as her mother was. Her daughters were sent to the local free school run by a voluntary organization. Who would spend money to educate daughters who would also live in a cage? Savitri had little to do with her daughters’ schooling or studies. They excelled on their own.
One day, when Lakshmi was in Class 7, she had forgotten to take her lunch box. So, Savitri went to school to give it to her as her husband and others were busy with more important work. And that is when she met Kajal, Lakshmi’s class teacher.
“Hi, ma’am!” Kajal greeted Savitri when she saw Lakshmi with her mother.
Savitri was surprised by the friendly tone because no one outside of her family really spoke to her, leave alone in a friendly manner. She hardly stepped out of her house, anyway.
Kajal continued without noticing Savitri’s hesitation, “Do you have magic in your hands? The food you send for your daughters is amazingly delicious. I never miss an opportunity to take a bite of it every day from one of your daughters. By the way, your daughters are brilliant. They have a bright future. You can expect them to do really well in life.”
Savitri put her head down and murmured softly, “What's the point? They will anyway be married off in a few years.”
Kajal was horrified, “No, no. You must let them finish their education. They are so good that they will get scholarships for their college education. They can go on to become lawyers, doctors, engineers, and anything they want.” Savitri remained quiet and unresponsive. She’d been caged for far too long to be enthused by the outside world.
And yet, Kajal’s infectious enthusiasm attracted Savitri so much that the two became very good friends. Kajal lived close to Savitri’s house, too. And so they met often, and most times, without the knowledge of the family. Savitri was scared that her family might not allow her to meet Kajal frequently because of her “bad” influence. Very soon, Kajal knew everything about Savitri and her life.
She wanted to do something to help her talented friend. She encouraged Savitri to build self-confidence.
One day, Kajal asked, "What are your strengths?"
"I have none," replied Savitri. “I just cook, clean, sew clothes, and look after the house.”
"Rubbish! We are all empowered beings. You can't see your strengths as such because no one has shown you a mirror to look at yourself. You are seeing yourself through the eyes of others around you."
Kajal continued, " If something happened to you, your entire family would collapse. You're the strong foundation on which your family lives. Don't ever say you don't have any strengths."
"I already know an easy way you can monetize your power. Use your cooking skills,' said Kajal.
Savitri was flummoxed. “Cooking skills? How can that help me?”
Kajal continued, “Why don't you start sending lunch boxes for the teachers in the school? Many of them don't have the time to cook and end up eating in hotels and restaurants. They would love to pay for your delicious home-cooked meals.”
Savitri decided to give the idea a chance to flourish. She faced a lot of opposition at home. But she didn't relent this time.
Once Savitri got over the initial fears of breaking convention and going against her family, she realized the new business was the best thing that could have happened to her. Her food was a big hit and soon she was flooded with orders. Her husband resisted only for a while. Once he saw the money pouring in, he too helped Savitri in her venture.
In two years' time, Savitri set up a cooking unit close by, and her brand of food was selling like hotcakes. She set up cooking classes which also did very well.
After just 4 years since she started providing food for a couple of teachers in her daughters’ school, Savitri’s business was flourishing. The quiet, subdued Savitri was today a confident go-getter motivating others around her. Everyone who knew the old Savitri was stunned at the transformation. Today, she was being interviewed by the local newspaper.
The interviewer asked her, “People say you were like an animal in a cage, docile and diffident. When and how did you become the lioness we see today?”
Savitri replied, “A good friend simply showed me an unconditioned mirror. What reflected there was my true self and I knew I was not the caged animal that others made me out to be. I was a lioness who had the strength to break free from the cage and stand tall and proud and lead a pack of lionesses.”