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The Cost of My "Freedom"

Once, my mother and I were in our rooftop. Suddenly, I saw a bird sitting in a corner of the rooftop. I said, I wish to have that bird. My mother wanted to make my wish come true. She approached the bird so slowly so that it doesn’t notice her and suddenly caught it in her hands. The little bird was panicked. It was trying to set itself free but my mother had kept it so tightly. I could feel its small heart beating so fast. She took the bird and asked me to fetch scissors. I asked what scissors can do. She said, “If you cut the feathers of its wings, the bird won’t be able to fly until the feathers grow again. But, before the feathers grow, the bird forgets flying freely and gets tamed. Then, it will be yours. Even if you set it free to fly in the sky, it will come back to you after flying for a while.”

When I was a little girl, my father was my teacher. He could answer all my questions about God, angel and everything. he was a good resource to satisfy not only my curiosity but also my seeking for love, friendship and knowledge.

Unlike other girls, I did not have so many problems with my parents over my get up, hang outs with friends, and beliefs. My parents were proud of us for being their children—their followers.

Some years later, I was sent to Asian University for Women in Bangladesh in order to bring pride and honor for my parents—to become an educated and wise girl. Like other times, I felt my parents are the best because as they used to say, they had let us be free to choose our way of lives.

I was proud of myself for being granted such a chance—freedom to be away from home! However, encountering different ideas, beliefs, cultures and a different world, I realized how I my world was limited!

Now, I still love my parents but I doubt about the freedom they granted me. I think I have been blind before that. I could not see the world as it was. I realized that I had been seeing the world through my parents’ eyes because they had carved their should and shouldn’ts on my brain since my mind was young and naïve.

Now, I have understood what that meant when the person who had come to our home to collect our second hand clothes as charity, did not accept my dress for it was old fashioned.

Now, I have understood why I don’t feel comfortable when I am with my friends from the same age and rather wish to be with my mother.

Now, I realized what my father meant by telling stories about girls with uncovered hairs who go to hell.
Now I’ve realized how they have given me this freedom. They tamed my wild and restless soul by their stories, their advices, and their warnings. They have chained my soul to what they call society’s norms and cultures. They have enslaved my brain by their rules. I had no friends to talk with, no place to go, nothing to enjoy. I had only and only my parents and my family to be with, to see, to learn from and to ask from. They have made me another version of themselves.

The safe and secure environment of home, in fact, has been a prison cell for me that had separated me from the world around me.

Today, I realized I am given freedom because I do not dare to be free.

I am free to live here in Bangladesh, because my mind and heart are tied to my family and I cannot live here happily in such an “insecure” world.

I am let free the way that little bird was supposed to be free. I am set free because they are sure that I will come back to them, with no change, no growth, and no opposition toward them.

However, my wild soul is not content with this freedom. I have learnt that what usually cultures compel on us by the name of “good” or “bad” is not really good or bad. It’s only about common or uncommon. I have learnt that religion is not terrorizing other people’s lives. I have learnt that when education comes, the world changes. Education brings understanding, tolerance, and being good to people.

Just like that bird that did not wait for me to bring the scissors and flew away; I am trying to use what I have learnt so far in order to unchain my mind. I don’t want to live in such short time and artificial freedom that I am given. I want to be free: free to love, free to speak out, free to help, free to learn, free to ….

I want to fly away from the boundaries and break the “safe” cage. I want to educate myself to see the world through my eyes.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Sharontina's picture


Your words are so poetic as well bringing the strong heart and power in you.Good writing dear.I've become a fan of yours. Keep it up.


Merlin Sharontina

zarha.saifey's picture

Thank you

Thank you so much dear Sharontina.
My heart was full of unsaid words. I just wanted to bring them out.

Zahra :)

Mukut's picture

Loved the comparison !

You expressed it so beautifully. I loved how you wrote in the beginning about the bird and its urgency to fly away and be free. Let your "wild soul" soar !!!

As Sharontina mentions, i am your fan too. Exceptional write up ! Keep it up.

Lots of love from India,

Mukut Ray

zarha.saifey's picture

So glad you liked my writing

So glad you liked my writing too.
I am trying to set my soul free. It takes lots of efforts but I am not going to give up.

Love from Afghanistan.
Zahra :)

Sutanuka Banerjee's picture

you rock

you are a very spirited girl desiring freedom and you deserve it as you have an untamed mind to judge, understand and learn without fetters. May you fly high just as you dream of.

Best Wishes


I live in my convoluted mind....

zarha.saifey's picture

Your words give me more power

Your words give me more power to fight for freedom--honestly!

Zahra :)

Cali gal Michelle's picture

Zarha- Your words are

Zarha- Your words are poignant, and show a soul on the cusp of bursting with bloom. Awareness is oftentimes the first, and most challenging, step towards reaching full potential. To arrive at these realizations takes courage and discernment, and you have much of both. Seeing protection as a kind of cage takes courage. Withholding judgement from parents while realizing their limitations takes discernment. You, Zarha, posses both.

You will take flight. You will soar, brave bird!

Let us Hope together-
aka: Cali gal


sangam's picture

You will fly !

Dear Zahra,

I loved the way you used your experience about the bird to compare with the freedom of yours. Though for a very short period of time in your mother's hand, the bird expressed the feeling of your suffocation and wanting to be free. I am pretty much impressed with your way of writing.

It certainly is true that education brings understanding, tolerance and being good to people. It doesn't tell us what is good and bad. It teaches us to differentiate between good and bad.

You motivate every woman in this world with your positivism. And I am confident that you will set yourself free on one sunny day and break away all the chains that you have. You will fly high !!

Best wishes and Hugs from Nepal
Sangam :)

zarha.saifey's picture

Dear Sangam, Being in a

Dear Sangam,
Being in a conservative society and caring too much about the old traditions and culture fasten us to the past. That's true that culture and tradition is a part of our identity but we have to live in present. We have to accept the changes in beliefs as a phase. In societies like Afghanistan, young people, especially girls are so limited because their parents live in the past.


lydiagcallano's picture

Seeing differently

I am so amazed by the depth and power of your words for a young writer like you! You are a born poet who see beautiful things that ordinary mortals cannot see. Thank you for sharing your thoughts....

Ma. Lydia G. Callano
Iloilo, Philippines
+63 33 3158137 or 5138830

zarha.saifey's picture

Thanks dear Lydia

Thank you so much dear for your nice comment. You are giving me more power and more inspiration to write more.


Tame means'(of an animal in contrast to a human)domesticated".this means the word tame can not be used for humans certainly as it is for animal s other than humans.such degrading words are not suited to be referred to humans.we are not animals.Domesticated in turn means the same thing.these words have no reality for a human being.wild can have two meanings that can be confused with human attributes 'natural,uncultivated' and 'uncontrolled'.the first refers to things such as fields etc.not humans.But a human in its true nature is a prize.and secondly why would we need to controll human beings.That is just should be vigilant and not refer to ones victimisation in such terms because it can imply that those who are brave enough to be who they are,are some what 'untamed' or 'wild'.we are humans and not animals and these terms are not for us.we are not animals and should not be treated as such and be regarded in not degrading terms.we are not animals and can not be treated as such.No,we are human, not a jungle or otherwise is against our person and inhuman treatment.Good luck

zarha.saifey's picture

Thanks friend

Thank you friend for giving your time and reading my writing carefuly. Yes, you are right, tame can be refered to animals not humans. that's why i used it. when you are not allowed to use your skills, and your potential skills remain hidden and untapped, when you do not have the right to choose your way of life, and live in so many limitations, you'll be like a bird in a cage.

lintajonhera's picture

Many of our thoughts and much

Many of our thoughts and much of how we view the world shaped by our upbringing. This can stifle independent thought with parents acting in the name of doing what's 'best' and supposedly for your own good.
I'm glad that you have made the decision to figure out things for yourself.

What you think matters.


zarha.saifey's picture


Yes. You're right. We are caught in a chain of beliefs. Our parents' beliefs, grandparents' beliefs and so on. To make a difference, we need to break this chain and set ourselves free from boundaries and frames.


Rosaasam's picture

You are right. We should

You are right. We should break the safe cage and fly high.
I love your expressions.

MariaAle's picture

Words from your heart

My heart is in every word that came from your soul.
You are an inspiration to have the courage and live the life that you deserve.

Maria Alejandra Alcaraz

bitani's picture

very touching

Zarha, this is very touching. I think, to a certain extent, most parents try to make their children other versions of them. This doesn't mean it is what we turn out to be :)...

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."
—Judy Garland

zarha.saifey's picture


True. Even when parents want to keep us as they want doesn't mean that they want to abuse or enchain us. They are mostly afraid of the unclear future and worried that something might happen to us. Their love and fears become the main reason to keep us inside the cage of normality and social cultural boundaries. They think it's gonna be OK if we follow the way they had been because they have tried this way. They think if we don't challenge the norms and frames of our society, we will be safe and sound. But they don't think that we need to fly because we are born to fly. If we stay inside the cage and try to opt to the life in a cage, no matter how less the danger of being caught by predators is, we can't test the taste of a real life.
I still admire my parents and their love. I still respect them because they have given so much love and care to me and my siblings but this is sad a little bit when they ask me to be the way they have been. I like to fly in the sky by my own wings instead of hearing how they have been flying and how does it feel to fly.

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