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Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review : ‘Sita's Sister' by Kavita Kane

Sita’s Sister’ is a rather thought provoking read. Even if we have read the earlier versions of the Ramayana, which basically put Urmila to sleep, one must read this particular piece. It would help truly understand how and what the women’s lives were like at the time of the Ramayana.

It starts off with a prologue, and the tiny Sita holding up Lord Shiv’s bow. Just with those words, Kane establishes the silent strength of the book. Moving on, let us go on to understand who the book is all about. Sita’s Sister.

There are a few versions of what happens to Sita’s sister, Urmila in the main version of the story. Urmila goes to sleep for 14 years in one version, or she goes into penance in another one, but if you have read Kane’s stories before, you would understand why her version is suitably feminist.

Urmila is King Janak and Sunaina's daughter, though till now, we’ve heard the versions of how Sita was taken from the earth and adopted and he had his child later. So, Urmila is the spirited sister of Sita, though you cannot miss the parts where one notices, how protective she is of Sita. 

It becomes obvious, when Sita falls in love with Rama, and then you cannot miss the Urmila-Lakshman’s version either. The story goes on to show how the two cousins of Urmila, Mandavi and Shrutakirti also follow in her stead, marrying Bharat and Shatrughna. You cannot miss the version of Urmila’s mother either.

On to, Ayodhya. Here, we come to meet the other characters, starting with
Kavita Kane
King Dasharath, moving on to his three wives, and then the vamp of the book, Manthara. There is a lot more of Urmila’s character, which comes forward. She is the opposite of Sita, while Sita is described as a beautiful being, so is Urmila with intelligence, quick wit and a deeper understanding of people’s characters.

Even during the time when Lakshman’s character chooses going with Ram and Sita to the forest, she stays strong and helps Shatrugna to handle all the stately affairs, especially when Bharat also decides to become a hermit till Ram returns.

Her intelligence comes into view again, when she is invited by her father to take part in a conference where she would meet other scholars and finally put her learnings into full view.

The book also shows most of the others, such as Kaikeyi angsts, Sumitra’s kindness, Manthara’s vices and Mandavi in her awkward shades, which people have not realised, in all the years of reading the Ramayana.

Lakshman has a whole new role to play in this book, as we try and understand his shades too. The book has been very wisely written. Though changed, at no time does the reader feel like the book has not done the story, justice.

The book does have its feminist moments and gives an ungodly touch to its main character, Ram who is the ultimate cause of Sita’s death.  You cannot miss the temper of Urmila either. A very well-written book and one, which should definitely be read.

Author: Kavita Kane
Genre: Fiction
ISBN : 978812913494
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Price: Rs 295 /-

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