I guess, from the time I started reading, it was mostly the works of international authors for me. Venturing into reading something written by an Indian author was a far-fetched idea. That does not mean I did not read books by Indian authors, I did, but nothing really touched me, so to say.
Being a book lover, I keep looking up stuff on the Internet about, what else, books and anything related to it. That could include anything from cute bookmarks to book shelves. So, while reading one of these “booky” posts somewhere, I came across this book titled “The Palace of Illusions” and how it should be on everyone’s “Books to Read Before You Die” list. OK then, there it goes on my “to-read” list on Goodreads, lest I forget about it.
So, one fine day, while walking down the aisles of this book store, aptly titled “The Title Waves,” I saw this book and of course, I had to have it. And like any book lover, that book remained unopened for a very long time. Come on, I had other books to read and so little time.
But then, finally, this October, opportunity knocked and I took out “The Palace of Illusions” from my cupboard. And, once I opened it, I could do nothing but only keep turning the pages. I was riveted, to say the least.
As a child, I remember being hooked on to the great epic, The Mahabharata, which came on TV every Sunday. This was ages ago; believe me, when I say, times have changed! But why am I speaking of The Mahabharata? That’s because “The Palace of Illusions” is about it but, and here is the catch, it is from the perspective of a woman, Panchaali, or Draupadi, as most of us know her.
If you have ever seen or read or were told about The Mahabharata, the only reference to Draupadi was the one married to the five Pandavas, and who was lost in a bet and how Dushasan kept unwrapping her saree until he was tired but the saree did not unwrap completely. That’s it; at least, I only knew so much about Draupadi before I got my hands on this amazing book. Draupadi is so much more than just a female lead in The Mahabharata.
The author, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, has done a wonderful job of portraying Draupadi as the fearless one, she can face it all. From being born out of a fire and being an equal to her brother to dealing with her husbands to falling in love, she is such a rebel. A much-needed example of a brave, intelligent, and brilliant woman.
The Palace of Illusions is a must-read for everyone irrespective of gender or religion or anything else.