Close to the city of Paithan, in a small village called Sauviragram, which lay along the banks of the great river Godavari, lived a woman named Ilaa. Being cotton farmers, her family was well to do, but not among the richest in their area. It was the harvest season, and cotton had to be picked from the plants. The wholesalers and traders from Paithan would be arriving in just a few weeks, carrying gold and goods for barter. They would exchange what they carried for the cotton that the farmers grew. The bales of cotton had to be ready in time! Work was at its peak!
But Ilaa was not to be found in the fields. She wasn’t working. Instead, she was sitting by the banks of the great river Godavari.
‘I am sick of this!’ she grunted loudly.
Ilaa was clearly upset about something. She was in not in her usual functional state of mind to work that day. Ilaa, throughout her life had been very respectful to her elders, blindly obeying their orders, always in agreement to what they said, following the conventional life of a woman in Sauviragram .But now she couldn’t take the injustice any more, she had to show the people that even she had her own philosophy, even she had dreams, even she wanted her to live life in her way. Now she had no other choice but to revolt, express herself, stand up against the injustice, stand for her rights. She wanted to prove that women can lead the people of the Satavanha Empire
Paithan, capital of the great Satavanha Empire, was well known for its cultural and educational developments. Almost every person in the empire including women were educated to the minimum requirements so as to lead a self-independent life. This was the empire where rulers added their mothers name to their names, treated women as Goddess, celebrated and honored women through their religious, cultural festivals. But recently this ideal situation was changing. Over the past years women were mistreated, not given equal importance in their houses, made to work in cotton fields, whereas their brothers and fathers would run the buisness, train for the army and various administrative posts.
Ilaa wanted to join the administrative post of the Defence. She had passed all the pre requisites of the post. She had proved to be physically and mentally stronger than rest of the participants. But she wasn’t selected by the royal council, because they didn’t believe that a woman can lead the huge army of such a great empire to battle and succeed. The king was a respectful man. He was known for his respectful attitude towards women. He named his son after his wife and himself after his mother. He made it an annual ritual to honor the brave girls during the cultural ceremonies. King Dhrivendra didn’t know about this incident with Ilaa. He would have never let this happen, but It was the councils duty to shortlist the potential candidates, and they didn’t select Ilaa even though she passed the test, the council was backward regarding women and this was the problem for Ilaa.
Ilaa was sitting on a rock at the banks of the “Ganga of the south”. The Godavari River was a spiritual point for the locals, there was a huge Mahadev temple along its banks and people came here regularly to offer their prayer. The river ran through the Satavanha Empire and was the source of water for the farmers. This was also the most favorite destination in the village among couples who spent their evenings holding each other looking at the river flow. She always came here for inspiration and meditation. But today she was angry, she was looking at the water, which was flowing in full force, creating noisy turbulences as they hit the rocks. Her eyes were bright red, rebellious thoughts flowing in her mind just like the Godaveri River.
Just then, Vishwaksena came to the banks. He was the Prince, son of the great King. He saw Ilaa sitting on the banks staring at the river. She had called him there. Vishwaksena scanned his beautiful girlfriend from behind. Ilaa was wearing one of the famous Paithani saree, it was white and transparent. Her back was clearly visible from behind. The saree only covered one-fourth of her body, rest was a treat to watch. Her clear golden brown skin radiating in the sun, the arch of her back showed her vertebral bones. Just at her waist was her white cloth tied around hanging, covering everything below her waist, but revealing a major portion of her toned thighs and legs. Her feet were bare. She was looking her best.
As Vishwak approached her, she turned back on hearing the sound.
‘Vishwak…….You came.Thanks….’She approached Vishwak to hug him.
Her frontal view was even more amazing. Her white saree was folded into a thin strip of cloth, running along her body diagnolly, revealing almost everything , but sadly she wore a white(not transparent) blouse revealing a descent amount of cleavage, the blouse attached behind by thin strips of cloth delicately, it looked as if it would loose its grip at any moment. But it held miraculously. Her abdomen was clearly visible showing her amazing curves and her navel. She was better than the Godaveri. Vishwak thought
She hugged Vishwak tightly. Vishwak pressed her even more tightly feeling her body. Then she let go.
They both went to the banks and sat on one of their favorite rocks. Ilaa was sitting with Vishwak holding her hands. He didn’t want to leave her. He started kissing on her shoulder, she moved away almost pushing him. She was not here for Romance.
She started ‘This system is unfair, it does not give women the chance we deserve. We deserve to be judged based on our merits, not because we are women. We deserve a higher position in our work place because we are worthy of it ’
‘Yes …I know and I have spoken to father about this issue. He didn’t know about this….So I have some good news……tomorrow there will be a discussion held in the palace court about your appointment in The Defence. My father will be there. I will be there. The council will be there. You just have to tell your point……My father will understand…..If not’ Ilaa turned to Vishwak .
‘If not …then….then what’ her voice trembling.
‘I will make him understand’ Vishwak smiled widely. Ilaa smiled and rested her head on his strong shoulders ‘Thank you Vishwak…Thank you…..I Love you’.
Viswak kissed her forehead and they both sat there admiring the beauty of Godavari for a long time.
The next day. At the palace court. This meeting was called by the King Dhrivendra, ruler of the Satavanha Empire. The court contained the Seven Royal council members, The King, The queen and Vishwak. Ilaa was standing at the center of the hall. The courtroom was a huge hall with the King, Queen, Prince sitting on their heavily decorated gold plated chair at the front. The chairs for the seven Royal council members were arranged in the form of semicircle starting after the seats of Royal family and ending at the middle of the wall. Ilaa was standing at the center of the semicircle. She was visible to all and everyone were visible to her. The general public wasn’t allowed. This was internal affairs. The ceiling was occupied by wonderful paintings of Dhrivendra’s mother, wife and all the brave women of the empire. There were seven pillars behind the chair of each council member. There was one huge pillar not connected to the ceiling with painting of his Mother holding him when he was born. There was a horizontal gold slab above the Royal seat with words inscribing ‘Jai Satavanha’ showing a women raising her sword at the Sun. It was their symbol.
Before coming here, Illa had asked her parents permission to go to the court to fight for her position but they refused to do so. They never supported Ilaa in such matters. They wanted her to become a housewife like her mother. She used to go to work every day to pick the cotton boles and hand them to her father, who used to sell it to the merchants from Paithan for gold. This was how they survived. Their cotton farm was yielding well in the past few years and they were getting wealthy but not as wealthy as others. This year their cotton grew faster, thicker and they were hoping that with good barter, they would finally be rich like others. But Ilaa had other plans. Her parents didn’t support her, but she supported herself and left the house against their will. She made the right decision.
The process began. Dhrivendra spoke ‘First the council members’.
One of the council members, their leader spoke ‘Your majesty, it is simple. A woman is not capable of leading the mighty Satavanha army. A woman cannot hold herself against the mighty soldiers. It is simply not possible physically and mentally for a woman to manage the battle. We don’t need any proof for this. It is the way of life. So …your majesty, I ask you to give this woman a smaller post in our kingdom which she will be able to handle. All the seven of us think the same way……Your majesty’ This would have been enough in any other kingdom. But not here.
‘Ilaa’ Dhrivendra turned to her. It was her chance now.
‘Good morning you majesty, Good morning to the respected council members’ She bowed before the King, then bowed before the council members. She looked at Vishwak, gave him a smile. Vishwak’s mind still thinking about her yesterday and now thinking about what they would do after court. He needed the decision to go in favor of Ilaa. To enjoy later.
‘Yes...you are right….women might be physically weaker, but that is according to you. Majesty I have succeeded in the test, better than anyone else. I deserve this post. I am ready to work hard for this. I will give my life for this kingdom. We women are much stronger than you expect us to be. We can kill for other, we can die for others, we can give birth to others. We can do whatever you can, that and even better’ tears were rolling down her face. Her eyes showed her emotions. She looked like a warrior goddess.
The King had made up his mind. But wanted to listen for more. The Queen was proud to be a woman.She smiled with pride. It was inspirational.
‘Majesty….I believe, I can defend this empire with honor and can bring about the peace everyone deserves. I can make women more confident about themselves and help this kingdom flourish with greatness. And this case, it’s not only mine……this is for all the women who have been ill treated, who have not got the respect they deserve. So my majesty please consider this case as a fight against injustice to women. That’s all your Majesty’. Ilaa retreated.
King rose ‘The verdict is clear, so are my intentions, women in my kingdom will be respected, honored and treated equally. They will be given posts which they deserve. Women are the present and future of this nation.’
Tears rolled down her face. She was crying heavily. But she won the battle. She believed in herself and she got what she wanted. She proved that Women were, are and always will be the strongest force on this planet. They are Gods.
She went on to be the greatest warrior of the Satavanha Empire.
Women are the future of this nation.
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