Mythology fiction has been reigning in the list of bestsellers for the past few years now. From Amish Tripathi’s Shiva Trilogy, Devdutt Pattnaik’s mythological history, Ashwin Sanghi’s The Krishna Key to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Palace of illusions. Many distinguished authors have retold the notable mythological characters from their unique perception, experimenting with the age-old stories. But for the first time, the iconic women from our epics are narrating their stories, through impeccable character sketches by Kavita Kané.
In her novels, Kavita Kané portrays the female characters through grandeur and descriptive narration. In every book, she has chosen her characters wisely. She has mastered the art of retelling the stories from the perspective of the overlooked characters – like Urmila, Menaka, Ahalya, Shurpanakha, Satyavati, Karna’s wife.
Her novels thoroughly explore the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata and give you a much deeper insight that has been ignored so far.
Representation of Ahalya by Kavita Kané
In Ahalya’s Awakening, we see how the author narrates the life, thoughts, emotions of a woman about whom we don’t find any exclusive description in Ramayana. Except for the incident where Ahalya’s freedom is validated by Rama. But Ahalaya has much more to say about herself and that’s where Kavita Kané poignantly places this protagonist in the right frame.
Ahalya has always been depicted as the symbol of adultery, the one who betrayed her sage husband Gautam Rishi. His curse turned her into a rock until she was emancipated by Rama on his way to exile. And that is all everyone knows about her.
For Kané, Ahalya is the most beautiful, elegant woman who nurtures an intellectual side since her childhood. When she is young and compelled to take shelter in Gautam Rishi’s Ashram, she is scared and anxious. But she also has questions which need answers. Wisdom is an innate quality that she glides along with her honesty.
Kavita Kané captures Ahalya’s flaws as naturally as her innocence. When Ahalya realises that it is Indra who is with her, she accepts the intimacy. When Ahalya is cursed and invisible to everyone, she accepts that too but she doesn’t submit her will to that state. She understands the reason for her betrayal, her emptiness even when she was married to Gautam, even when she had three beautiful children. Ahalya never gives up on herself.
Her resilience to the adverse situation makes her who she is. The author captivates us through Ahalya’s narration. She is guilty but she is wise to rise above the guilt and establish her life’s purpose. It was a harsh choice but at least, in the end, she is free from the curse of validations.
Satyavati and Draupadi
On the contrary, when Kavita Kané sketches Satyavati, it strangely fits her character. In Mahabharata, there’s no back-story for Satyavati, but if you go through her character, you meet the young, fierce, bitter Kali with a foul smell – hence her name Matasyagandha. The woman who is incapable of love but protects her kingdom, her lineage with the compassion of which she is unaware.
Interestingly, her match should have been Bhishma but she chooses Shantanu. The long, miserable years has transformed her into a fighter, an opportunist. An abandoned royal blood – Satyavati avenges her position in a society which mocks her mere presence. There are just so many intricate layers to her characters that you keep unravelling and a new Satyavati emerges. She is at fault in several instances, but the way she manages the hate-mongering of her subjects is commendable. She is not emotional, she exactly knows where to strike the chords in the time of crisis.
Mahabharata has vividly conveyed the injustice drawn on Draupadi. Don’t be surprised if you can relate to her character because she comes from a background wherein she is considered the lowest in hierarchy. She keeps fighting for herself every day until the day she reaches the throne.
Satyavati’s struggle makes one think that most of the time, we have to choose between the wrong and less wrong choices. She is manipulative, opportunist, remorseful – attributes which she accepts with brutal honesty. Eventually, this acceptance gives her the freedom to let go of the miseries, conflicts that had become her nemesis.
Their voices were fading for the centuries, but they never forgot to dream, to desire, to share the story of their awakening.