Iknow I am not alone in this, so many woman and girls around the world went through a phase (or still are) of relating to the character of Daenerys Targaryen, aka Khaleesi from the popular HBO series “Game of Thrones.”
No other female character proved as bold and beautiful, strong and stubborn, composed and just, and of course just a doll overall. Even with all that dragon training and fire-burning, her cute face and smashing body remains. Why would I not want to be Khaleesi, the original princess of Westeros, wife of Khal Drogo, Mother of Dragons, etc etc?
There was a time, not too long ago, when I lived in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where my belief in my Khaleesi-ness was nurtured and strengthened every day. No matter which part of the city I moved to, there was something being built around me, the construction noise went on for months. “Hundreds of men at work building you an empire” -- that’s what a writer friend of mine told me so I could cope with the noise, air, and everything-else pollution.
When I walked out on to the street, a hundred eyes stared, I looked at them as the unconquered ones, to be conquered with my straight spine sitting pose on the rickshaw, because all Khaleesis need are a straight spine and a pressed lip -- a half-swallowed smile to master that look which says we know something just a little more than the rest.
This method actually worked on the masses, that smile and spine technique saves one from being grabbed, groped, stalked or teased (mostly).
I watched my back at all hours, not just while crossing streets, but even in the darkest hour of the night, in my apartment … this happened more after friends of friends were getting hacked to death because of their writing. I used my three invisible dragons to walk ahead, beside, and behind me, for a sure protection.
It worked. I had a small army. They were my maid, my short-term chauffeur, the care-taker of my building, the gate-keepers.
They saved me from unnecessary hassle at times, a few times they turned into the problem themselves, but there was always that one faithful one, like Jorah Mormont, whose intentions I was always unsure about: “Is he doing this because he is a good guy, or does he like me?” Yup, if you are a girl, you know what I am talking about.
There was also a sense of urgency to prove myself (I am still working on that). Khaleesi will not rest till Westeros is hers, and I will not rest until my country, Bangladesh, feels better, till I have done something equal for it as my ancestors did -- liberating it, loving it enough to die for it.
My Khaleesi powers had me moving in buses, boats, rickshaws. It had me renting and living alone as a single woman in Dhaka for almost five years. I felt like I could do anything in the world if I could make it during the 2009 Bangladesh Rifles mutiny, 2013 two-month-long strike, a few attempted sexual assaults (I got away fine because I am Khaleesi), curfews, and the other usual bloody things countries processing pain from the past go through.
Then I moved back to the US. I still continued to be Khaleesi, walking down the streets of Washington, DC and being aware of any suspicious activities. By then, I was used to operating from the space that the world was against me, with only a couple of army members left here and there, some new bonds and some old. But never enough supporters, and always more to learn.
I grew more anxious, and the toughness started to give me nightmares. Here, there were no empires being built around me (except for a Trump hotel next to the Reagan building downtown).
Khaleesi will not rest till Westeros is hers, and I will not rest until my country, Bangladesh, feels better, till I have done something equal for it as my ancestors did -- liberating it, loving it enough to die for it
I felt like things were falling apart -- the chaos was missing, that dark things which plagued me changed their normal pace, and I did not know who I was dealing with anymore besides Muslim-haters.
I started taking every slightly pessimistic innuendo personally, and felt like I have to keep protecting myself. I was worried about motivations of individuals, constantly, like I was trained to do for so long in Dhaka.
But my Khaleesi powers were showing their negative aspects by now. I realised I had been such a tough Khaleesi for so long, that the toughness turned inward and started pounding from my inside with a strong fist.
Little girls who are reading this, let me tell you a bit from a 30-something-perspective: It doesn’t pay to be so tough, toughness is overrated, and it certainly is not the answer to most of life’s issues (unlike what you will hear frequently for advertisement and cliche’s sake). Toughness becomes a habit, and it may appear to be a good one, since the whole world is screaming “be strong (or die).”
But really you don’t have to be that tough -- there are some solutions in softness too. Just a thought for next Halloween when you want to dress up as Khaleesi, maybe you want to think twice.
Lately, I have started to like living without my dragons, and though most of my life I thought perpetually happy people are just ignorant, I secretly feel like being one of them.
Without any dragons or army to think of feeding, or roads and races to convert into Khaleesi-ism.
I wonder about how Khaleesi might feel once she takes over Westeros. Will she start making up things in her head and fighting her own shadows? Will she finally process her years of pent up issues, death of a husband and child, seeing so many ends and letting go of so many close ones? When do Khaleesis process, and how?
The bottom line is, I don’t want to be Khaleesi anymore. Besides the fact that she has become one of the most predictable characters of “Game of Thrones,” I find her queenship comes with too much heartache, too many thoughts of guards and guns, too much pressure to be right all the time.
I am signing out of it.
Want to join me? This might be the time, there is always something magical about that time after episode nine.