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06 November 2015

Book Review: SITA'S SISTER, by Kavita Kane

Background:

I've never really been a great fan of the Ramayan, as I've always found Ram too ideal, too perfect to be human (OK, he wasn't- He was God). Hence I like reading different takes on the epic, rather than the usual narration. And like Asura, by Anand Neelakantan, this one is yet another take on the Ramayan, told from Urmila's perspective. 

About the Book:

Urmila. Urmila who? Lakshman's wife.. But then she was Sita's Sister too?! 
That was the first thought when I read the abstract. As the book synopsis says, the story is narrated from Urmila's point of view, one of the most overlooked characters in the epic. We all know what happened during the fourteen years of exile to Ram, Sita and Lakshman- about the kidnap, the Lanka War, etc. But have we really spared a thought to what happened to those left behind at the palace? 

This is what this book is all about. It begins with the childhood of the four pretty and vivacious princesses of Mithila, how Sita is always the favoured one. There is no petty sibling rivalry, no jealousy, and yet this is not put forth in the usual ideal way. The sisters are then married off to the four charming Princes from Ayodhya, much to the apprehension of their mother/aunt.

The Vanvaas (exile) is described in a very neat, subtle manner- not too emotional, yet touching in its own way. There are certain twists in the story too, which might seem like a deviation from the version that's most popular. 

My Thoughts:

Urmila has been depicted as this strong, fiercely independent woman. And many of us can quite relate to her. She takes some crucial decisions, she is highly intelligent, she is described as being a 'woman of words', and is extremely brave, in the way she handles many difficult and tragic situations that arise in her life. And at the same time, she does not wallow in self-sympathy, at the cruel fate she has been blessed with- instead she faces and accepts it with poise and dignity.

The story is narrated from a girl/woman's perspective. It definitely makes for a fresh read and offers a new take on the well known epic. And yeah, I personally feel the female reader would like it more. As the author writes about herself, she has grown up being surrounded by strong and independent women, which probably contributes to the feminine energy she has infused into the book. 

Overall, an interesting read.

Negatives: Some of the dialogues eventually get a little repetitive and rhetorical. The pace of the story is initially very slow, and suddenly seems to rush through the War, the Homecoming, Sita being banished to the forest, etc. which could have been written about in a little more detail.

Rating: 7.75/10

The Back Cover says:

As Sita prepares to go into exile, her younger sisters stay back at the doomed palace of Ayodhya, their smiles, hope and joy wiped away in a single stroke. And through the tears and the tragedy one woman of immense strength and conviction stands apart—Urmila, whose husband, Lakshman, has chosen to accompany his brother Ram to the forest rather than stay with his bride. She could have insisted on joining Lakshman, as did Sita with Ram. But she did not. Why did she agree to be left behind in the palace, waiting for her husband for fourteen painfully long years?


(Picture sourced and the book bought from here)

2 comments:

  1. nice write up....I was always interested in the Mahabharatha (esp. one penned by Rajaji); the plots;the twists and turns, war strategies ;Draupadi's five husbands and Lord Krishna's mysterious ways- all these different elements pointed to the fact that it was more than a mythological story- one with a deep metaphysical significance (as they say "if it were so easy to understand the saints, we would be one ourselves; same with the scriptures I guess )

    Ramayana, seemingly a little bland in terms of the plot compared to the Mahabharatha, never held my attention...but your review makes me want to give it another go :) thanks and beautifully written.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Bhavani, then you must read this one and Asura too!

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