Sometimes you experience a certain joy, after finishing a book. And sometimes you feel a strange void, a kind of sadness that the book ended. Those kind of books are written in an extraordinarily engaging & captivating way, leaving the readers craving for more and more. Now, that’s a compliment that every writer looks forward to. Isn’t? Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s “The palace of Illusions” left a similar void on completion. Unlike other books, I took quite some time to finish this book, because I’d read the pages slowly – to envisage the princely moments described in the book, the magnanimous characters and the mysterious feeling of belonging to the era.
The book is about the great Indian Epic, Mahabharata – the tale that’s known to everyone, its colossal battle, moral values, virtues, righteousness etc. But, the difference here in this book is, it’s narrated by a woman(& written by a woman too), who shares her own insight about this timeless classic – a massive battle, of her own life…sometimes as a daughter, sister, wife of 5 Pandavas, daughter in law, mother, and the queen of Indraprastha. A woman who epitomises strength, a woman who dared to think her mind. Yes, it’s she – Draupadi or Panchaali, as the world fondly calls her.
I enjoyed reading it, knowing Draupadi, learning about her strengths, her weakneses, her perceptions, including her emotions that she displayed fearlessly – all the “navarasas”, nine aesthetics (as an artiste would like to call) in different circumstances. As a woman, there were many instances where I could connect with her emotions, thoughts or even the way she would feel – restless, disillusioned, sometimes with pride, jealousy, passion, love, kindness, anger, fear, – characteristics, which we are all familiar with, at some point in life. Isn’t?
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