The reason I picked up this book is that it is related to the Hastinapur series by Sharath Komarraju. When I finished The Rise of Hastinapur, I knew there was a long wait before the next book came out and I was mighty disappointed. But Sharath Komarraju offered me this: Dear Sakhi: The Lost Journals of the Ladies of Hastinapur and I was more than delighted to lap it up.
The author divides the book into small portions of diaries of the prominent ladies of Hastinapur, as might have told to their confidantes or sakhis in that time and age.
The first journal entry is that of Ganga. You know her story but the author spins it in such a refreshingly new way that you have no option but to marvel. The entry sheds light on a mother’s love – how divine and celestial it is, even for the most celestial of goddesses. It shows the battle between heart and mind and yet again, divinity does not triumph. It is the same everywhere: A mother’s love, a mother’s pain at separation from their child and the story of Devavrata as seen from Ganga’s eyes – her pride dripping, pain lancing through you.
As with every book, Sharath Komarraju brings in simple sentences that make you stop and think.
“A word lives but for a moment; once it leaves your lips, it has died. How quaint then, is this idea that something that lives but for a second must bind your actions forever?”
“How does one measure or describe a mother’s love and heartache?”
Riddled with identity issues, Satyavati ponders over her life gone by and misses what she sees in the past. And through this, the whole story from The Winds of Hastinapur to The Rise of Hastinapur comes rushing forward from where it was stashed away for such a long time.
Another mother’s grief comes crashing down and squeezes your insides. It’s a wonder it doesn’t come flowing out in the form of tears. Satyavati’s account shows remorse, regret, and longing at certain decisions – something that every one of us has had at some point or the other in our lives.
There is a paragraph that describes so well the way the world focuses on a person’s life. It is so brilliantly put that you can’t help but frown as well as revel in the amazement. Here it is:
”As always they try to break a person’s life down into words and pictures and phrases and brush strokes. As always they pick incidents that happen to you, choices that you make, and hold them up as beacons to your character, forgetting that a person is like the river, forever flowing, forever changing shape. As always they try to hold you in the cupped palms of their hands, so as to gaze at you, put you up on display for others to pass judgement.
As always they try, and as always they fail.”
Amba descends on the warzone in Kurukshetra, witnessing the battle between Arjuna, Krishna, and Bhishma, while she fights, too, in the form of King Drupad’s son, Shikhandi. Shikhandi shows that the final achievement of revenge, even if it is on some you might be in love with is somewhat satisfying. But then, with time, certain triumphs turn into less than welcome regrets – and Shikhandi’s life teaches us that.
Do we not plead with ourselves to allow our psyche to think that tomorrow will be a better day? That’s what happens with Amba or Shikhandi, too. The saying, “What goes around, comes around” gapes back at you after a while. And in a while, the extent to which wrath can uncurl and lash out at the Gods for not intervening and not bringing justice to you is made obvious.
Yet another mother’s pain, ache of being deprived of her son. The chest heaves with grief at the early separation, but then he won’t remember the year he spent with her. “In the vast canvas that is life, what, alas, is the value of one year?”
Watching Kunti in your mind, you just want to ask her one question: How can you still maintain your calm and righteousness even after you have been wronged? It is wondrous! Treachery and deceit – how fair are they and for how long can you bear them? And in continuum, the explanation behind brotherhood and its varied textures can be so much more complicated than it looks!
The highlight of Kunti’s journal is her explanation to Draupadi as to why the latter had to be married off to all five Pandavas; it is compelling and thought-provoking.
Draupadi’s pain is evidently channeled through her words. You can feel it thrumming, and it is not something you can keep quiet about. You wince and you frown, but in the end, are helpless in doing anything about it. Quite obviously.
And Sharath Komarraju has some words of wisdom that he channels through Draupadi:
“In life, unlike in a game of dice, one never knows when to stop.”
“Heaven and hell are mere constructs of the human mind, and they both reside here on Earth, brought into being with our actions, thoughts, and words.”
For someone who hasn’t read the Mahabharata (yet! I know!), Dear Sakhi has a lot of details that I don’t understand. So maybe when Sharath Komarraju’s next book in the Hastinapur series comes out, I’ll be more than happy to grab it with both hands and lap it up!
All in all, a good book!
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Other Sharath Komarraju books I have reviewed: