On Chitra Divakaruni’s ‘The Forest of Enchantments’

     ‘The Forest of Enchantments’ is the story of Ramayana, as narrated by Sita and presented to us by the one and only Chitra Divakaruni as the long awaited, masterpiece publication is finally out of the press, and available for the readers to enjoy.
     Ramayana, the time-tested mythological classic has remained a legendary saga of Indian traditions, and its values of righteousness. The incarnation and celebrated tale of Sri Rama during Thretha Yuga has been the ultimate example of a perfect human arriving on earth, annihilating the wrong and reclaiming the good that every Hindu household revered and admired. The celebrated story has been depicted by sage Valmiki and through millennia by several illustrious authors, wherein the personality of Sita has been portrayed as that of a perpetually wronged and suffering female, from an abandoned newborn to sheltered princess, a dutifully obedient wife and a single mother discarded by her husband.
     That is, until now. Until Divakaruni scrupulously ventured delving into the life of Sita through her own personal perspective as a distinctly intelligent and independent woman, having her own version to tell, thus presenting to us a chronicle with all its refreshing ethos and daunting insinuations. This should have been rightly titled ‘Sitayan’ as Sita proclaims to Valmiki as she eventually ‘succeeds in convincing’ Chitra to present to the modern world a version as her very own biography ‘in her own words’.
     The character of Sita in the ‘Forest’ aligns very much with that of Draupadi (Panchali), another mythical heroine of the epic Mahabharata, in Chitra’s ‘Palace of Illusions’, the story that would happen in the ensuing Dwapara Yuga. Through the poignant accounts of the two contrastingly enduring personalities, the author has succinctly depicted an ageless and sad reality of females, of daughters, wives, and mothers.
     ‘Forest of Enchantments’ is a delightful treat embellished with the author’s narrative style, its imaginative descriptions and the appealing constituents in the story. The household chronicle that every Indian child has been repeatedly told 287 with its familiar characters and their customary personalities suddenly assume different dimensions through Chitra Divakaruni’s portrayal of Sita, told in her inimitable fashion. The author presents the mythical characters as regular humans, who exist, chat, eat, love, argue, fight and live like all of us, experiencing and e xpressing pleasures and frustrations like common people.
     To all those who are ‘very familiar’ with Ramayana, this book is assured to be an astounding revelation, and an ecstatic experience. To those who are not familiar with Sita or Ramayana, indulge in for quite a treat that you may have never felt through a story.

Author: Dr. Venugopal Menon

Was born and raised in a loving family in pre-independent India, became a doctor, served Indian army, got married, then came over to America with wife and a daughter, established as a successful Allergist, raised a family of three children, was involved in many social establishments, retired, and wrote memoirs, 'My Mother Called Me Unni, A Doctor's Tale of Migration'.

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