Quarantine or not, these books are worth your time.

I have this thing that I can’t resist buying books whether or not I end up reading them. While roaming around on the streets of Mumbai earlier this year, I found this book titled as “The Forest of Enchantments”. I picked it up because the title felt familiar. As I read the synopsis, it reminded me of a book I had read earlier. A book called “The Palace of Illusions”. Oh how fascinated I was with the author then for writing such complex character so effortlessly, all with the depth and overlapping emotions of women’s minds and hearts. Even if it was a story I already knew, I thoroughly enjoyed a new outlook in which an old story was written. Mind it that even if those characters were written zillions of years ago, they were still true to basic human emotions today.

I have always been attracted to mythology, especially Mahabharata. I admit that I was ones somewhat obsessed with its little details and characters. I have read a few stories on it, have had admittedly watched both old and new version of it’s TV show – Mahabharata, multiple times. I have also watched the short stories that were produced after the old Mahabharata show got over. So, when few years back I saw my best friend reading this book – “The Palace of Illusion”, that was mainly based on Mahabharata but was written as through by Draupadi; it intrigued me so much that I ended up buying it without thinking twice. Although I count my self as a fanatical reader, I’m not that big on experimenting as it often happens that the story doesn’t interest me enough to complete a book. However, in this case I have to admit that I loved every bit of that book. I could feel how Draupadi must have felt in the moments that felt so insignificant in Mahabharata.  I understood why she behaved the way she did. 

So when I saw this book- “The Forest of Enchantments”, I got all excited and bought it. This one is based on Ramayana and is written as through Sita. I didn’t start reading it till yesterday because I had my doubts. I doubted that a single person, our author- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni could write and fully justify stories of both Sita and Draupadi, the leading ladies of Indian mythological history. They were so different are still considered as the symbol of womanhood even today.  They were born in different yugas, one was loved and cherished by her family whereas other one was shunned by her father. One was obedient and soft spoken whereas the other one was domineering and rather sharp tongued. Yet their journeys felt so similar, full of agony and suffering.  I think, I was afraid to be disappointed after reading about Sita but now that I have finished it, I am crying. My heart aches for her. I could feel her pain.  The tragedy she suffered all her life till the end. The way she loved that showcased her as weak. I could understand it all, just like I could understand Draupadi, even more so. Earlier, I had taunted Sita in my mind for how she did not took a stand and gave Indian women a weak moral to follow in today’s times but I have no shame in admitting what she did was right then at least, if not today. All her life, she acted upon love.

For years, Draupadi has been my favorite for being true to herself and not giving in to any injustice. I always felt that’s how a woman should be. It was only after reading both these books, I realized that both these ladies were impeccable. No they were not perfect but no one is supposed to be. Both of them fought injustice in their own way. They fought a parallel war for women, while our gods were fighting the manifested war. People largely misunderstood both Sita and Drapadi during their lifetimes, only to love them after their deaths.

I don’t know why I’m really writing this post but maybe because I want to encourage you people to read both these books. Not because they are based on some old epic mythological poems but because the author here is giving us all a new perspective, she’s attempting to rewrite the stories that always celebrated men. Call me biased but I believe that these stories would not have had such significance if it weren’t for its women. The strength, courage and righteousness that were exhibited by these ladies made it exemplary.

 If nothing else, I can guarantee you terrific story telling in these books.


      1. Himal

        Thank you Suraj!! 🙂
        I’m pleased to read your comment. We need more guys like you, who are open to the possibility of another perspective; that there’s story beyond what’s written by a man and that women too have a stories to tell!

  1. Surbhi Barai

    Hey Himal, I want to confess one thing. when I was going through this post, till the half way I felt that these are the things similar to the things going in my mind. I always liked Draupadi for the same reasons you have mentioned and surprisingly I used to taunt Sita for the same you have mentioned ! Now I think I should read this one to get better understanding of Sita and to clear my misunderstanding about her! Thankyou for this post.
    Good job 👌

    1. Himal

      Thank you, Surbhi!
      I wrote this post for people like us only; who believed that in order to achieve something, we’ll have to fight our way like Draupadi. Unlike our thinking, Sita did not always give in; she fought back too. Maybe, just not the way Draupadi did. Sita to was fierce in the need of hour. Halfway through Sita’s story, I realised that there are indeed other ways to tackle situations. (Now when my mother will tell me to adjust in order to have a happy marriage in future, I’ll understand that what she’s referring to.)
      I guess you will really enjoy these books.

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