I have always been hooked for stories that were re-told in the authors point of views. Kavita Kane’s re-told stories of epics from the POV of marginal characters is my favorite. In similar lines, “the liberation by SIta ” by Volga is my new found love.
This novella originally written in Telugu by Volga , translated into English is the story of Sita who meets 4 lesser known women characters of Ramayana, before she liberates herself from the shackles of the mortal world. Narrated as a slim collection of stories, each one is still interconnected and the women who had marginal role in the epic play extraordinary role in educating Sita.
What I loved about the book is how the characters are re- visioned .Surpanakha whom we’ve seen and heard as a demon is seen here embracing nature, overcoming her rage(ofcourse after all the war and death of her brothers in Lanka) and letting that bond of sisterhood develop between her & Sita. Urmila( Lakshman a’s wife) who is hardly spoken about in the epic goes on a self impose penance, but when Sita returns to the royal household, she helps Sita attain her peace of mind. There are also women like Ahalya and Renuka (wives of rishis) who enlighten Sita about the societal norms of chastity and how futile it is to anchor identity in motherhood and marital status . There is a little chapter about how Rama after Sita liberates herself is devastated and grieves at the loss of Sita. It even makes us wonder if Sita was his protective charm ,always standing by him .
Throughout the 5 stories, there is beauty in the language which keeps the narrative flow through like a clear river . There is even a little bit of background given then and there around each incident, for those who know little or nothing about Ramayana.
There is feminism oozing from every single page and re-visioning of the myth makes us look with fresh eyes , giving voice to the marginal characters who forge and extend bonds.And when you finish the book, I’m sure you’d agree to that women are not a mere prize in men’s quest, but questers seeking their own joy, freedom and salvation.