It all started with Palace of Illusions. Even without having any knowledge about Mahabharata or the inclination to gain it, I wanted to read this book since 6 months. I finally bought it, started reading it and am hooked on to it. Palace of Illusions in your mythological chick-lit. I am lost in Draupadi’s world. I feel myself beside her. I can see what she is going through at different stages of her life; I can feel it, empathize with her and sometimes, want to wring her neck for being silly or impulsive. When I’m not reading the book, I think about her and want to go back to her soon.
Her secret love for Karna – oh so painful, so full of longing! There is nothing more heart-rending than unfulfilled love. My heart sinks every time Karna’s name pops up in the book. I am shattered when Karna gives a cold shoulder to Draupadi, leaving her to handle her aching heart. And am shattered yet again when Draupadi is bound by her duties, unable to speak her heart out to him. My heart does a little somersault when he praises Draupadi quietly in front of Bhanumati. Draupadi’s anguish, her social shackles are upsetting to an emotional, involved reader like me.
Karna. Loyal, generous, principled, dependable, resilient. The tragic hero. The cursed warrior. Who would not fall in love with him? Isn’t he the kind every girl desires? Draupadi falling in love with him is no surprise. Ignored and unwanted by her father, having to sustain loyalty towards her insensitive, vain and cowardly husbands and ultimately being gambled away by them made her no less a tragedy queen. No wonder, she shared an invisible bond with Karna and was drawn to ‘those sad eyes’ again and again.
I read and re-read the portion where Karna reveals his love for Draupadi to Bheeshma while Draupadi secretly overhears the whole conversation. I can feel what she would have felt at that time – elated, relieved yet imprisoned and helpless.
Of course, there is no secret love between the 2 in the original story. This is just a brilliant imaginative piece by the author, Chitra Divakaruni.
But it was this book that got me intrigued about Mahabharata. I wanted to know more about the complex story. The infection spread to my colleagues too. And soon, we were watching B R Chopra’s Mahabharata Katha again, after 23 years of its first viewing, and discussingit. Lunch breaks and morning greetings revolve around this great epic that used to be a significant event of Sundays some 23 years back for all Indian households. Every day, we look forward to updating each other on last evening’s findings about the epic’s many curious elements.
This mythological classic is not only complex but also racy, what with its multiple wives, secret affairs, illegitimate children and scandalous boons. Looks like they had more fun in historic times than in today’s modern commercial time.
As a child, I believed in magic. I believed in gnomes, fairies, pixies, flying carpets and spells. Reading Mahabharata now, at this age, is equally fascinating for me. It is magical because of curses and boons, enchanted palaces, unbelievable history, Gods and Goddesses, mysterious creatures and charmed weapons.
I never knew one day I would be so interested in mythology. I had always related mythology to religion. How was I to know mythology can be magical and often, spicy??