‘Embracing Power’ is a short story I have written as a part of a series of stories titled ‘Deathbed Reflections’.
Dalilah was a young and intelligent Princess. Due to a peculiar set of circumstances her father (although he was still alive) handed over the throne to her and took to a more relaxed and retired life himself. He and Dalilah’s mother were both available for her to consult or seek advice but they left the day to day operations of the kingdom to her. Dalilah felt like she had a lot of power but she also felt overwhelmed by the responsibility. Her trusted assistant Abu, was with her always and he took particular care to see to it that all of Delilah’s instructions were followed and executed correctly. However, Abu never thought on his own and he considered his role to be one of execution and not of decision making. Therefore he never gave his inputs or suggestions to Dalilah when it came to taking decisions.
Dalilah was sincere about her responsibility but she was not enthusiastic about her role. She did not like some of the calls she had to take when she needed to make policies or dole out punishments. She found her leadership role dry and taxing and did most of her decision making on autopilot. She stuck to the norms, policies and frameworks that had been designed by her father and his predecessors and she did not even consider revising them. She did not feel an intuitive connect with many of these norms and she was not philosophically aligned with the approach of governance that she was following.
Delilah was disinterested in her role and work and therefore she did not think of challenging or questioning the assumptions behind these norms. She thought of herself as someone who was doing her duty and fulfilling her obligations towards her parents and her state. She pitied herself because she felt caged and burdened by her responsibilities.
The others in her Kingdom looked up to Dalilah and many envied the powerful position she occupied at such a young age. They looked up to Dalilah as a leader. However Dalilah herself, never felt like a leader. She felt like a robot who got up each day to address a long list of decisions and administrative calls that she needed to take. She had cut herself off emotionally from the work she did and she took cold and indifferent decisions based on the rulebook she had inherited.
When Dalilah was on her deathbed, she looked back at her life and felt a powerful question arise in her mind. She wondered if she had been powerful or had she been powerless. Why had she not chosen to question some of the administrative and economic norms that had existed during her ruling period. She was the person in her Kingdom who had been invested with more power than anybody else and had she wanted she could have revised and re-crafted many of these policies. She wondered why she had unconsciously defined her role as someone who had to dole out orders based on a rulebook she had inherited. She wondered why she had operated out of a sense of powerlessness even when her role was technically the most powerful role in the kingdom.
On her deathbed Dalilah realized that she was the princess of the Kingdom. She could have re-written the rulebooks. She need not have disconnected emotionally and philosophically from her role. She could have tried to align her actions with her philosophical stance. She could have allowed her human emotions inhabit her throne with her and operated from a place of love, compassion and empathy. She could have redesigned her work and her role to make it something that was of interest to her. She could have embraced her power and lived from a sense of purpose and vision and helped her subjects and also been happy herself.