Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The liberation of Sita - Book Review

Before writing anything about this book, if I were to rate the book, it would be 5+/5.

Have you ever thought of women in Ramayan and how their lives must have changed after playing their role in the multilayered epic? Majority of the scripts that have been passed on to us rather widely believed have glorified every act of Lord Rama, the dharma he followed, his ideals and beliefs for attaining the ultimate purpose of his avataar. Who is going to tell us about Sita, her feelings, the endurance, the wisdom, the truth-untruth, the other side of story and the intricate complexities of Ramayan?

The candid conversations of Sita with Surpanakha, Ahalya, Renuka and Urmila are covered in the book in four different chapters, each of which igniting Sita's rationality. Every conversation is profound, enigmatic yet refreshing and eye opening. Sita had the choice to join her husband, the royal court along with her children. Instead, she chose liberation from all the bonds after performing her duties. She immersed herself in the lap of nature. Wondered why? You might get an answer in the book. Although, the stories are fictitious, each encounter will open varied perspectives.

Most of the situations hold true in contemporary scenario as well if you have an eye to look from feminist's perspective. Probably I will have to re-visit the book after few years to completely absorb the philosophy.

Answers that I always search for while reading Ramayan are

1. Is there any dark side to Rama Rajya? Humans are born with defects and do survive with corky emotions. If people of Ayodhya were benevolent, why were there rumours about Sita's chastity? 
2. Was Ramarajya really bereft of thieves and burglars? If so, from where did the thief later turned sage Valmiki come from?
3. Sita conceived after almost a decade and a half after her marriage. Was she not a victim of incessant inquisitiveness of procreation? 
4. Why did Lakshman not for a second think about his duties towards Urmila. Does Arya Dharma say that for a Kshatriya duties towards his father, brother are more important and high than any other duty? What about the marital vow he undertook to look after his wife and her needs?
5. The same story which gave high importance to Kaikeyi, her wishes, doesn't talk about Urmila's consent while Lakshman left to the forest. Isn't her life entwined with his?

and some more I may encounter in future.

Interestingly, all the questions are answered by various spiritual gurus as per their understanding of this great epic quoting other versions of Ramayan along with Sage Valmiki's. I am equally astonished to learn that Valmiki's Ramayan is dissimilar in many ways to the story we believe in. 

Co-incidentally,  in the parallel world, I am learning to sing "Nama Ramayana" in M.S. amma's style. I indulge in the song, in hope to find some answers, trying to match my music teacher's expressions as she utters melodiously "Rama rama jaya raja ram, Rama rama jaya sita ram". 

About Author: This is a translation of "Vimukta" written by a popular Telugu feminist writer Volga (Popuri Lalitha Kumari).

Not Without my Daughter - Book Review

On recommendation by my dear friend, I picked this non-fiction book "Not without my daughter". The story was gripping, fascinating sending chills down my spine throughout. I ravenously completed reading in 2 days. I imagined myself in the situation and wondered if I ever have courage to pass such treacherous circumstances. It's unfathomable how Betty (lead of the story), an American woman in a country like Iran managed to escape to Turkey in ice and cold. Despite awfulness around she did it three decades ago sans understanding the language, money and contacts.

Will we women be able to endure that agony, melancholy yet have strength to oppose highly dominated patriarchal society? To vehemently curtail the violence.  To blatantly protest for our rights and freedom. My fellow sisters out there facing obnoxious situations, do not ask me how much time and pain will it take to fix up? Well, I don't have an answer. Days, months, years or decades. Keep faith and do not succumb to the situation. One line that kept repeating often in the book is "Where there is a will, there is a way" and that kept Betty moving, motivated.

I strongly recommend this book to any girl in need of high dose of motivation.

P.S. I picked up few Farsi words that I shall be using in my future conversations and keep people perplexed.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Calling Card

I randomly looked at my office id card that I have been hanging around for few years now. As I observed few droplets of water under the plastic sheet that protected the card, I tried to wipe the same against the cotton kurta I was wearing. It was long after I did that, a realization occurred to me that the tissues provided in office were meant for that purpose and my kurta deserves something better.

Then, abruptly a thought flashed my mind. A keen stare at the faint yellow ID card took me back to more memories and this little identity is growing a shade darker every few days. This has been my honour, dishonour, confidence, respect, assurance, fear, comfort, failure, hope, despair, win and loss at different levels.

Now, I feel the desperate need to return it.

And perhaps the card is in so much love with me, it says "I see I see I see - I - can't let you go anywhere so soon!!”

Nature's school of thought

Sipping a cup of coffee, I was overlooking the building opposite to my office when a heap of clouds made their way in the sky. These dark clouds passed sluggishly at their own pace. I, then wondered if these dark clouds resemble our problems. How slowly a problem penetrates into our lives, sedentarily settle in our minds, sometimes leaving us hopeless, at times killing us, spreading darkness all around.

But, what we often don't realize is that our problems are like those passing clouds. They look dirty, hit us coldly, camouflaging our perspectives, sickening us temporarily. The moment they pass, they leave us fresh, confident, exposing us to the vast clear sky and sun.

Nature has the best way of teaching life lessons!!

The legend of Lakshmi Prasad - Book Review

Twinkle Khanna aka Mrs Funny bones has a quirky, satirical way of writing. Having read her columns and experienced peels of laughter (especially the Cut-Appa one), I ordered "The legend of Lakshmi Prasad". I didn't bother to read the blurb or reviews before placing the order. Partly, because the book is always placed amongst the best selling books and in top most row at Landmark and other book stores and I safely presumed it to be a great book from this entertaining columnist. Also, at times you know, I want to experience and make an opinion myself than going by what XYZ newspaper or Mr. Famous says or blogs about the book.

A glance at the contents elicited that it is a collection of 4 short stories. Honestly, the book was a lil let down in terms of waggishness it offers albeit the relatable, heart touching and well built characters. Perhaps it was because her columns were exceptionally well written with humour at its best. The first 3 stories in the book revolve around the women of different age groups, their emotions, struggle to conform and fit into the stereotyped Indian society. They are sure to entertain any feminist. But, the last story is a surprise. It is an inspiring story based on the true life incidents of Mr. Arunachalam Muruganantham, who invented low cost sanitary pads breaking all the taboos. He was awarded Padma Shri last year and is fondly called "The menstrual man".

Overall, the language is lucid, people and situations are beautifully crafted with strong female characters leading the plots, light hearted and will serve a good 2-3 hour nonchalant read. Though fun and wittiness is not as promising as it is built in her articles and columns.

My favourite line is "Here lies Elisa, she briefly belonged to many, but truly to herself" and favourite story of all is "Salaam, Noni Appa".