I finally got around to reading Sutapa Basu’s : Padmavati, a book that was on my reading list for a long time. Historical fiction is a genre I enjoy for it gives a human face to an otherwise tiresome set of people, dates, and territories. When I read History in school there were numerous Kings and their triumphs to memorise, and far too few women worth anything in the annals of time. We can blame this on the Patriarchal nature of primogeniture, or territorial expansion as a measure of greatness. Fortuitously in the last decade or so many authors have attempted to bring the women of eras bygone out from the ignominy of disregard.
The legend of Rani Padmini, whether true or not, is well-known. A Queen desired by the boorish Turk, embraced the flames with hundreds of other women to save the honour of her clan as the brave Mewaris lost the battle to save Chittorgarh from the forces of Allaudin Khilji.
Basu brings to life the story of Padmavati creating an identifiable protagonist: a young girl with hopes, dreams, vulnerabilities and a quiet strength that is staggering. When one heard the mention of Padmavati there was always a misogynist ownership to it — it was a virtuous woman’s dharma to destroy herself than fall into the hands of the enemies of her state or religion. The novel explores a legend and makes it believable as it exposes the guilt of the young girl in love with her husband and country, whose only fault was that she was so beautiful that her looks led to the downfall of her people. Makes one reflect on the hundreds of Padmavatis who have lived and died as objects of desire and things of honour for a world of covetous predators and protectors.
A quick read, in Sutapa Basu’s Padmavati, the language flows easily and references to real places make the narrative interesting.
Author(s): Sutapa Basu
Release: December 2017
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