I read The Palace of Illusions a month ago after much waiting for it to come out in paperback (I’m cheap like that!) and because I refuse to use libraries. I need to own my books. The OA had been given strict instructions to check all airport bookshops but being the OA, he came up with zilch. The day I got it, I fell on it like a starving wolf and read it through breakfast, while feeding the kids, in the car, on the pot – you get the picture.
Never having heard the Mahabharata as a story while growing up and only catching bits on TV and in conversation, I knew nothing of Draupadi. All I knew was that she married five men (I knew not why) and that Garden Vareli sponsored the endless saree she was wrapped in, in the serial that they showed on the telly.
So if this book is just Chitra’s interpretation that’s just too bad because I am totally sold on it. I read her Mistress of Spices and enjoyed her writing but somehow never felt compelled to pick up anything else of hers. But I recently read Devdutt Patnaik’s The Pregnant King and I knew I wanted more Hindu mythology written this way. And boy, what a treat the Palace of Illusions was. So don’t tell me it tells nothing of the real story, that its distorted, that she’s misinterpreted. I don’t want to know. I don’t care.
Sometime after the first chapter I was so deeply drawn into it that I’d snap back to reality rather disoriented. I’m not going to really review the book except to repeat what Itchy and I chatted about – that after I read it, I didn’t feel like reading anything else for a while, simply because I didn’t want to move out of that era and that genre.
I was fascinated by the way she learnt how to handle each husband. I have a tough time dealing with one. Her relationship with Krishna was just like one I share with a very good friend – hard to define. I was shocked by how little she gave to her children. And yet, it was so easy to associate with a woman, with her power struggles with her mother in law and her strange relationship with Karan. I think thats where she got me by the err… spherical objects. I yearned for him through her, right through the book. And even as it neared the end I was cheering for them to be together. None of the others deserved her. I had tears running down my face as I read the last line and the OA looked at me like I’d lost it.
There’s an old saying that the best love stories are those that don’t have a happy ending. I refuse to believe that. Do you?
It would be on top of a mountain and the only way to get there would be via cable car. There’d be endless lawns and orchards and gardens and I’d spend my day tending to them. My kids (all 12 of them!!) would run wild and free and you’d hear the shrieks of baby laughter through the house. I’d have a library lined with books. I’d have a sound proof music room for the kids and the husband. I’d lock them in there and go for long leisurely baths in a tub that looked out into the forests. Sigh. I think I should stop. Yeah, I think I’m a hill person. The OA is welcome to his beaches.