I have been bitten by a mythology bug these days. The only plan I have for my reading list is to find and read retelling of mythological stories.
I must admit I have never been a fan of Ramayana despite it starting as a love story of sort.
Even as a child it seemed ‘too good’ and then it turns into a nightmare. At least, that’s how I saw it and lost interest.
This book isn’t really about Ram and Sita. It’s about Lakshman’s wife Urmila and how she saw the whole event and the destruction it bought.
I do remember that all four sisters were married to the four sons of King Dashrtha, but that’s all there’s to it in the myths.
At least, that’s what’s shown in the TV show.
Genre: Mythology. Historical Fiction. Fantasy.
Main Characters: Urmila.
‘Sita’s Sister by Kavita Kane’ ~~ Synopsis:
Urmila, daughter of King Janak of Mithila & queen, Sunaina, knows how to quietly play second fiddle to Sita all her life.
In Mithila palace it’s Sita and her two cousins, Mandavi and Kriti, who got all the attention and love from her parents.
And after marriage, it turns out Urmila doesn’t get the attention she desired or deserved either.
Just before Sita’s swayamvara, Sita falls head over heels in love with royal guest Ram and Urmila with his younger brother Lakshman.
While Sita’s love story seems smooth as Ram falls for her too. Urmila is not that lucky.
Urmila along with her sisters after the declaration of their marriage, one day overhears Lakshman telling Ram that he can’t marry Urmila or anyone else.
Lakshman’s words hurt Urmila, but she soon finds out his reason to utter them.
Lakshman makes it clear that he’s devoted to his elder brother and sworn to protect Ram.
If ever the question arises to choose between Ram and his wife, he’d choose Ram. That’s the reason he doesn’t want to ever marry, especially not to Urmila, who he fell in love at first sight.
Urmila is sad and happy at the same time. Lakshman loves her, but she’s not going to be his first priority ever in his life.
Despite all that, Urmila decides to marry Lakshman for love. Maybe no such situation will arise where he’d have to choose between her or Ram.
Urmila, Sita and their two cousins end up marrying the four brothers. From the day one, it becomes clear to Urmila that they are not going to get the kind of equality and freedom they got in her father’s palace.
Urmila quickly deduces that the equation between the queen mothers’ is shaky at best and Kaikeyi seems to have all the power to either turn the palace into heaven or hell, depending on her mood.
In the palace of Kousla, women don’t enjoy any say in the royal matters.
Despite it, sisters adjust well in their new home. Until the fateful day:
When King Dhashtrha decides to make Ram king in the absence of Bharat, Kaikeyi’s son.
His mother Kaikeyi demands that the king fulfills his long forgotten, two promises given to her. She asks the king to send Ram to fourteen year exile and make Bharat King.
All of a sudden, happiness of four princesses turns sour along with the countless other people inside and outside of the palace walls.
Urmila finds herself playing the role of a mediator and a pillar of support for almost every woman in the palace of Kousla.
Since I haven’t read Ramayana and only remember the televised version to an extent I’m a bit hesitant to comment on certain aspect of the epic.
I do remember that not enough space or time is ‘wasted’ on most women characters in the most of the epics.
If and when some time is ‘wasted’ on them, it’s almost always is the time when either the females are busy being ‘epitome of sacrifice, patience and good girl’. (For example ‘toxically nice’ female lead Sita.)
Or are wrecking havoc in other people’s lives & then angry men going around ‘cursing’ them & becoming ‘epitome of greatness’ in the process.
Examples of two wicked ladies: Kaikeyi and Manthara.
Hmm….No surprises I had little interest in watching the show. A friend of mine thinks I should have liked Ramayana more than I like Mahabharata, as the former story is at least largely a love story.
I find lots of stuff I don’t like in both the epics. But:
As I see it, at least, the Mahabharata has some good lessons to give (political ones) if you pay close attention to, than Ramayana.
As a female you’d not learn one lesson worth anything from Ramayana.
Ramayana only teaches women to be meek and simpleton enough to digest all kinds of insults. In one aspect both epics are similar that is husbands blatant disrespect of their devoted wives.
Since Sita’s Sister provides perspective from a character not talked about in the epic — Urmila, Sita’s younger sister and Lakshman’s wife. It’s indeed delightful and sad to read.
The author keeps the magical/fantasy aspect of the story in her books, but the characters are not overtly godlike. Which is good as the ‘god’ element makes it difficult to relate to characters in epics and make them unbelievable.
In the beginning the story is engaging as you get to read an old story from one of the most overlooked characters in the epic.
As you continue it’s not enough, at least not in the retelling of Ramayana. If you have read ‘Karna’s wife’ and then read ‘Sita’s Sister’ the latter falls short on being an intriguing tale.
Another thing I had trouble digesting is Urmila’s achievements. If I’m correct, wasn’t she supposed to spend her time sleeping on behalf of her husband? She would also have to complete her own sleep.
That means she’d have been sleeping for at least 16 hours in a day, making it impossible to do anything other than what’s necessary.
It seems she’s doing everything, but catching sleep for two people. If the author’s described a bit more about that maybe it’d have been more interesting.
Hit or Miss: Good.
Happy Reading! & Don’t Forget To Subscribe If You Enjoyed Reading The Review.
Subscribe to Blog via Email