Once upon a time there was a princess named Kamana. She was smart and beautiful and highly sought after by everyone in the kingdom. Her father assigned a bodyguard to escort her everywhere she went and offer protection.

One day, while Kamana was out for a walk in the sinister green-and-black forest outside her huge palace walls after finally managing to ditch her guard for some alone time to think in privacy, she came upon an injured tiger lying in a very scary pool of blood. Her first initial reaction was fear and sympathy for the animal, with no thought about her safety.

“Tiger,” she said, stopping to admire the gorgeous beast. “Guardian of these woods. What has happened that has hurt you so?”

“Young maiden,” replied the tiger. “I have been attacked. My leg is stuck in this hole I tripped into while trying to defend myself and I cannot move. Might I be able to trouble you for assistance?”

“What do you need me for? How could I possibly help you? I am nothing but a weak and untrained girl. A mere kitten to you.” Kamana wanted to reach out and soothe him, but held her arms firmly at her sides, warning bells telling her that even if he was a tiger sacred to her land, he was still very capable of killing her in one blow.

“Come closer, Kamana.” He waited until she was a few feet from him, warily eyeing his claws and mouth. “You are goddess of this jungle. It is your will that must be obeyed. Don’t be scared, brave one. You will not be hurt with me defending you.”

“You cannot defend me; you’re bleeding to death as we speak. I’ll never be powerful like Father or a warrior like my brothers. I’m not strong.”

“You are strong, princess. Strength is in the brain, the heart, and the soul. Not in the physical body. You have a strong spirit.”

Kamana considered the large cat’s theory for a moment then decided, “I will free you from your pain, wise one.”

Kamana was well aware of the danger she was in beside a bloody predator, but she didn’t give it a second thought as she approached the tiger and extended her arm slowly, stroking the white fur of its paw that was stained red and traced a black stripe. She gently eased her hand underneath the tiger’s leg and pulled. The tiger growled softly and hissed, but let her continue tugging. “Sorry,” she muttered, caressing the tiger’s paw with her thumb. Finally, at long last, the paw yanked free and Kamana went stumbling back, sprawling facedown. She landed on the tiger’s stomach. Only now, she was lying on the bare chest of a man with brilliant green eyes and dark obsidian hair falling in a halo around his chiseled face. “Thank you, iadala. Now it is my turn to repay you.”

“What is your name, tiger-man?”

“Shahid. Since you saved me, I shall now rescue you from your loneliness. Marry me, hridaya patni.”

And so, Shahid and Kamana were married with the blessings of Kāmadeva, the god of love, gracing their union.

 

Moral: Strength comes from deep within.

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