Book #1 of 2019
In a glance:
The Ramayana, one of the world’s greatest epics, is also a tragic love
story. In this brilliant retelling, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni places
Sita at the centre of the novel: this is Sita’s version. The Forest of
Enchantments is also a very human story of some of the other women in
the epic, often misunderstood and relegated to the margins: Kaikeyi,
Surpanakha, Mandodari. A powerful comment on duty, betrayal,
infidelity and honour, it is also about women’s struggle to retain
autonomy in a world that privileges men, as Chitra transforms an
ancient story into a gripping, contemporary battle of wills. While the
Ramayana resonates even today, she makes it more relevant than ever,
in the underlying questions in the novel: How should women be treated
by their loved ones? What are their rights in a relationship? When
does a woman need to stand up and say, ‘Enough!’
‘What occurred when I was alone in the darkness, under the sorrowtree, you don’t know. You don’t know my despair. You don’t even knowmy exhilaration, how it felt – first in the forest and then in Ayodhya– when I was the most beloved woman in creation.
I had already decided to pick women-centric books for this year and
The Forest of Enchantments happened to be my first read of 2019.
How deep impacts this book has left on me I cannot describe. As my name is one of the names by which Sita was dearly addressed, hence I have
always been eager to read more about her.
I have gone through some of
the originals of Ramayana’s translations and of some other retellings but this one remains the best I have come across.
If you want to stand up against wrongdoing, if you want to bring about change, do it in a way that doesn’t bruise a man’s pride. You’ll have a better chance of success.
The book as we all know is a retelling of the great epic by Sita –
Sitayan. It’s been heavily embedded by some powerful quotes and a
narrative so powerful that it can give you shivers as it talks of
heroism and nobilities.
I will conclude it here with one of the quotes from the book which speaks about love and resentment:
The more love we distribute, the more it grows, coming back to us from unexpected sources and it’s corollary: when we demand love, believing it to be our right, it shrivels, leaving only resentment behind.
This is one of the books which will stay with me for a long time!