Dorani

From Punjabi folklore.

Dorani

There once was a Hindustani scent-seller who had a beautiful daughter Dorani. Dorani and her friend—a fairy—possessed unrivalled singing voices and were skilled dancers. They were highly favoured by Indra, the king of the fairies, and the two were permitted to secretly travel to his court on a magic flying stool during the night whilst the mortal world slept.

It happened that the beauty of Dorani caught the eye of a mortal prince who expressed his wish to marry Dorani to his father the king. The king's men tracked down Dorani and relayed the prince's wish. Without a choice, Dorani complied; but on the condition that while she'd stay in her new husband's palace during the day, at night, she'd return to her father's house. The prince agreed to this condition, believing that they'd at least be able to spend the daylight hours together.

When Dorani and the prince were married, much to the prince's chagrin, she paid him no heed and sat alone in her room all day. As soon as the sun set in the west, Dorani would hastily leave the palace and return home—from where she'd hurry off in secret to the fairy kingdom.

One day, the prince was much distressed about the situation he found himself in while walking in the royal garden when the gardener inquired about the source of his visible unhappiness. When the gardener heard the prince's plight, he offered the prince packets of magic dust that would turn the prince invisible.

That night, the prince used the magic powder and followed his wife home. Together with Dorani's fairy friend, the prince—clinging to the back of the magic stool—travelled unseen with his wife to the fairy realm of Indra.

The next day, the prince confessed to Dorani that he had followed her the previous night.

To which she asked “my lord, why did you follow me?”

“Because I love you.”

“If you truly love me,” Dorani said bravely after a long pause, “prove it by not following me tonight.”

Remarkably, the prince obliged.

Instead of treating her like a caged pet or a mere possession—as any other folkloric prince might—this one respected Dorani's humanity, her privacy and her freedom to choose and make her own decisions.

Eventually, Dorani lost her ability to enter the fairy kingdom when Indra found out that her husband had learned of their existence. But it mattered not, for Dorani was touched by the trust, respect and patience that her loving husband demonstrated—and she soon came to feel a sincere love and appreciation for him.


Notes

In 2015, the Canadian Prime Minister staffed his cabinet with an equal number of female and male ministers. When asked why he had done so, he simply replied, “because it's 2015.”

Enough said.

Two millennia ago, the ancient Stoics of Greece and Rome were deeply conservative and paternalistic in their outlook. They were not feminists by any measure, at least not in the modern sense. However, their love of justice and logic meant that they keenly understood—as early as 2,000 years ago—that women deserved to receive quality education and be treated with the same level of respect that men were accustomed to.

Whether it's to be a top-earning CEO or a full-time homemaker, women—like Dorani in the story—deserve to be respected for their own choices.

Roman Stoics like Musonius Rufus and Seneca noted that women possessed the same intellectual and rational faculties as men. As women are capable of reason, they are—like men—entitled to philosophical training.

Justice is one of Stoicism's four cardinal virtues. It follows naturally and logically that—as the two sexes are intellectual equals—they justly deserve the same respect and freedom.

Women are too often victims of oppression or socially constructed limitations. This is immoral, unjust and frankly stupid. Never judge a book by its cover. Sexial differences are physical—superficial—not intellectual. Women are not saintly innocents, conniving femmes fatales, inferiors or superiors. Women are humans. No less, no more.

They deserve to be treated as such.