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Book 19: When I Hit You or A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife. Meena Kandasamy

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Real life incident 1:

A 34 year old female enviably lucky enough to have got married to the love of her life, whom she adored as a resolute Marxist intellectual, came home feeling rejuvenated  with her shopping bag loaded with perfumes she loved. These fragrances did not tantalise her husband but on the contrary made him incapable of restraining his anger which was generally directed against the state,government, capitalism or America.  He threw all the perfumes into the dustbin proclaiming  that as a Marxist, he could not tolerate the ‘petty bourgeois behaviour’  of his wife and insisted that she should use only ‘odourless deodorant’ (Doesn’t it sound like an oxymoron?) from that day!

Real life incident 2 :

A 30 year old woman doctor expressed her wish to study after MD before taking up a job because she could not erase her own image from her head, as a faculty speaker in a various conferences. Her doctor husband retorted that he could not wait any longer for her to finish studies because he felt that it was high time she gave birth to his baby. This doctor already had achieved everything possible in his life and now cared only about fulfilling his next highly anticipated role as a father. He did not give any recognition to his wife who was in every sense much more intelligent and considerate than him but could consider her only as another cunt or uterus for sowing his seed.

Real life incident 3:

A 37 year old post PhD research doctor, mother of two girls, who was being forced by her mother in law to drink cow’s urine after every intercourse so as to give birth to a baby boy, was grinning at her phone when her female colleague at work sent some joke on whats app. Her husband  who was sitting across, grabbed her iphone6 and threw it on the floor and angrily stamped on it, because he could not accommodate her happiness which was independent of him at that time!

If you still have not lost the ability to draw a parallel between all these events and concur that the well educated women in all these seemingly different situations are abused inspite of the fact that they belong to the privileged class and if you are not someone who berates the suffering of the women irrespective of class, then you would be able to empathise with the protagonist in ‘When I hit you’, the latest novel by Meena Kandasamy. But if you are somebody who is blessed enough so as to have escaped till date with zero exposure to any form of abuse, if you have  lost the sensitivity and clarity of your thoughts somewhere along the way and if your mind is full of nothing but questions as to why these women ‘allow’ themselves to be abused and stay in their marriages, then sorry; this book is not for you! Please do not waste your precious time reading the review or the book.

Though this book is tagged as fiction, the author herself reveals that the ‘novel is shamelessly informed by my own experience’. Most of us would not have forgotten, ‘My Story’ by Kamala Das, which was initially treated as an autobiographical novel and still remains one of the best selling woman’s autobiography in India. But the book evoked enough criticism and unrest that at a later date Kamala Das had to admit there was plenty of fiction in it!  But Meena Kandasamy , being a rebellious and courageous millennial, did not find it difficult to proclaim that it was her own experience as an abused wife, which lead her to write this novel. She has not named the narrator because it could be the name of any woman anywhere. Though the setting of the story is mentioned as the city of Mangalore,  the phenomenon is a universal one, which could happen in  any city in the world, where a married woman is suddenly uprooted from her home town leaving behind everything that defined her till date and is expected to live in the city where her husband works. This story cannot be limited by time, place or person.

The narration begins on a lighter vein depicting the various  seemingly hilarious alternatives of the story, her parents are forced to provide to the society.  The narrator decides that she should not forgo her freedom to tell her story and narrates it in first person in a linear fashion.  As the novel progresses, the pace picks up and  makes us turn the page faster and faster unlike the previous novel by Meena Kandasamy. (I was not able to finish reading The Gypsy Goddess).  I read this novel in one go as the words and images flowed effortlessly one after the other preventing me from putting the book down till I read the last sentence.

The narrator unassumingly takes us through her daily routine as the wife of  a college lecturer, who was a proud Marxist and never abandoned a chance to ‘educate’ his writer wife about the disciplined life a true Communist should live. It is perturbing to see how efficiently her husband used Marx, who believed that oppression of one class by another should not be allowed (men  and women are, of course classes), to oppress his wife. The narrator remarks ,’The institution of marriage itself creates it’s own division of labour’. Even though she had academic qualification, her husband wanted her to do menial jobs like candle making, cashew nut packing or a job at the printing press to ‘declass’ her thoroughly, so that the writer in her will write out of experience and she  ‘will not capitalise on her cunt’, she ‘will be labouring with her hands’.  The protagonist reflects that ‘the job of a wife(that she was doing) is somewhere in the middle: labouring with her cunt, labouring with her hand!’. I have till date, not found any better and realistic description of a wife’s job adorned perfectly by some women!

Meena writes about an incident where the students of the narrator ridiculed her for her ‘untamed’ hair. She gives a plausible historical explanation as to why women with short hair were considered equivalent to having untamed desires and how having short hair  became synonymous with ‘prostitution’. The British Army in colonial India had their own stock of registered women who lived near to the army to ‘serve’ the army men  ‘appropriately’. During those times,  these women were not allowed to sleep with any local because of fear of syphilis and the the British cut the hair of these women short so that they could be easily caught if they were ‘soliciting locals’. Thus women with short hair became synonymous with promiscuity and prostitution.

A genuine and original observation made by Meena in this book about language and its effect on your life intrigued me. She postulates that ‘what you know in a language shows who you are in relation to that language.’ She writes, ‘English makes me a lover, a beloved, a poet. Tamil makes me a word huntress, it makes me a love goddess’. She further elaborates where she says that the only Kananda words she knew at that time were, ‘haalu’-‘milk’, ‘anda-eggs’, ‘saaku-enough’ , ‘illa-no’ etc which were the words typically used by a house wife. She continues, ‘In this language, I am nothing except a house wife’. I applied this theory to my current situation ,where I know these Telugu words, ‘ jana paranga  jabbulu- genetic diseases’, ‘pelli’-‘ marriage’, ‘entha mandi pillelu -how many children’ ; in this language,I am nothing except a Geneticist!

As the narration progresses, we see the wife who tried different methods(Saamam, Daanam, Bhedham, Dandam) to appease her husband who was not ready to change because his perception and thoughts were altered and resembled that of a criminal.

Saamam (Friendship) : She wore dresses that he liked. She cooked food that he loved. She deleted her Facebook account as per his wish and promised him that she would not  do anything to irritate him.

Danam(Aid/bribe): She did the dishes, cleaned the house, washed and ironed his clothes and waited faithfully for him every evening. She even attempted preemptive sex so as to avoid marital rape later.

Bhedham( threatening/brainwashing): She said she would walk out and inform others about his sadistic behaviour. This did not bring any positive change in him because he adamantly believed that nobody would give any value to what she said.

Dandam (punishment): She stopped responding to him completely.  He  inflicted burns on  himself and physically abused  her forcing her to speak.

All these exemplify the simple fact that however you try to ‘adjust’ or ‘appease’ somebody who abuses you habitually, little is going to change.  It is wise to chose ‘flight’ rather than ‘fight’ in such scenarios. Sadly, hope is the culprit in such situations preventing you from ‘flight’!

The rebel inside the narrator is exposed when she passionately and venomously  wrote love letters to her lovers who never existed and deleted it by evening before her husband came. This reminds me of Virginia Wolfe’s words, “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” Her husband took away all her freedom to connect to the outside world by cutting Facebook (but arguing intellectually claiming it to be ‘narcissism ‘ and exhibitionism’), rationing internet, confiscating her email password and deleting messages from Gmail account but he could do nothing to put a lock to her creativity and imagination which in turn helped her to survive and rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

Meena Kandasamy’s clarity and truthfulness in narration do not fail to make an impact on you.  She is confident in describing her relationship with various types and kinds of men, including a politician from Kerala. In the West, ‘self analytical confessional writing’ has gained much popularity, but in India, to do something similar to what Meena Kandasamy has done, requires conviction and courage.  I really wonder why everyone is in search of the percentage of contribution of fiction and facts in such a narrative. It is believable and quite scary that such women exist amongst us, unseen and unheard. With the existing statistics of domestic violence prevailing in India, (One in five minutes) there is ample chance that this story can happen to you, me or any woman irrespective of her education, class or colour just because she has a female genitalia.

Even with multiple heart wrenching experiences and imageries, the book concludes on a positive note where the author describes her evolution to a woman who was unknown to herself. Meena concludes,’ I am the woman who still believes, broken heartedly, in love.’ I wish more people read this book and participate in discussion on various issues raised in this book (violence, marital rape, physical abuse, mental torture). I yearn for that world where all  abused women are able to find solace  and  love inspite of  a broken and bleeding heart.

Book 18: Karukku by Bama

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Let me begin this review by making a confession. I have always been proud of my identity as a feminist, bibliophile and bibliomane.(Please excuse me if my tone sounds overweening!) Inspite of that, all these years why did I not come across ‘Karukku’ written by Bama, a Tamil Dalit feminist writer? This book was first published in Tamil in 1992, but got translated to English by Lakshmi Holmstrom in 2000 and won the Crossword award that year.  Was it entirely my fault that I did not stumble upon her because I was neck deep ‘immersed’ in medical books? Or was it because that the book was not reviewed or popularised in mainstream media due to Bama’s multiple ‘disagreeable’ identities? I wish to believe that my first hypothesis is true inspite of enough evidence in favour of the second one. It was not until last week, when my bibliolater friend-cum-elder-brother figure told about his ‘discovery’ of Bama, that I became aware of the existence of Bama and her autobiography, Karukku. For him, who is an avid reader, interested in history, literature and politics since childhood, it took years to chance upon this book.  He opined that this could be a reflection of the pathetic state of affairs of Dalits and anything concerned with them in our country, whether it is  Dalit literature or Dalit art forms.

Bama is the pen name of Faustina Mary Fatima Rani who is a Dalit Christian from Puthupatti in Tamil Nadu. She is a mathematics teacher by profession, a novelist by passion and an activist by nature. Bama attributes education as the absolute reason for all her achievements in life and emphasises that only through education a change can happen. Bama rose to fame as the first ever Dalit woman writer in Tamil with her book ‘Karukku’, which in Tamil means palmyra leaves with serrated edges on both sides. She has to her credit three other novels, ‘Sangati’ ,’Vanam’ and ‘Manushi’ and many short stories.

In Karukku, Bama attempts to provide us a glimpse of her life as a Dalit girl growing up in a village in Tamil Nadu. Though she was a good student, she never hesitated to do household work or help her mother and grandmother earn some extra money by working in a farm. As a child she failed to understand why inspite of hard physical labour, nobody from her village was able to live like the Naickers who were well off and lived comfortably enjoying the fruits of somebody else’s labor. This book is about her journey spanning over many years of hardship, when she finally realised why it was so.  I am ashamed of myself for having failed to change the conviction of some of my friends who sternly believe that Dalits are responsible for their own ‘pathetic’ state because they are lazy, spend most of their money on alcohol and do not work hard. To wish that those friends would read Karukku would be immature and ridiculous; but I do  hope, at least once in their life time, they find time to listen intently to what people like Bama have to say!

Chimmamanda Ngozie Adichie who is one of my favourite authors, says in The Danger of a Single Story, that there is an inherent danger in reducing human beings to just a single story; by doing so we are dehumanising them. When Muslims are known only by a single story of being religious fanatics and terrorists , when Dalits are described by a single story of being ‘cow eaters’ and nothing more, they are being denied the consideration we all deserve as humankind. In Karukku, Bama introduces us to her people who live like any one of us, trying hard to make a living but yearning to enjoy simple pleasures in life by singing and dancing amidst all hardships. Books like this should be read and taught because they impart a deeper understanding and could make us more empathetic and humane.

Much can be learnt about a society by observing the games children play because children imitate adults flawlessly. Bama remembers their games as children where they did role play as upper caste men insulting Dalits or as men who went for work and came home to beat their wives up! For making such observations, Bama was ostracised by her own people who took time to realise that she was working for their common good. Though she had to pay a heavy price by losing her job and comfortable life style, Bama emerged as a strong woman by taking a decision to leave the congregation where she lived for 7 years because the injustice within the ‘secure walls’ of the convent became intolerable for her. Karukku is also a truthful account of Bama’s evolution as a human being and her sincerity is something which cannot be missed.

With utmost humility I realise that Dalit is a Marathi word derived from Sanskrit word ‘dala’ which means ‘of the soil or earth’ or ‘rooted in the soil’, extrapolation of which could mean ‘ground down’. Irrespective of whichever caste you were born into, if you have ever been subjected to feel unworthy of yourself by anybody( be it society, government, family or friends), then you are a Dalit. I owe it to Bama and her book for this simple realisation which has dawned in me.

 

Book 17: ‘What is not yours is not yours’ by Helen Oyeyemi

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About the book:

This is a collection of 9 short stories published in 2016, built around the idea of ‘keys’, exploring the opening and closing of houses, secret gardens, books and human hearts. These stories set in different places and time zones can be categorised as belonging to magical realism because many times ‘a highly realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe’. Though it is not prudent to compare Helen Oyeyemi with Marquez, Borges or Angela Carter, if you enjoyed reading them, you would not fail to appreciate a similarity in the nature of these stories. ‘Bigarrure’ is a French word that appears in one of the stories and the word meaning is ‘a medley of sundry colours running together’ or ‘a discourse running oddly and fantastically, from one matter to another’. I feel there is no need to search for another apt word to describe this story collection. It is ‘bigarrure’ with a variegated mix of different people and their stories.

My personal favourite among these stories is the first one titled, ‘Books and roses’. I discern that this story in particular has stupendously changed a minuscule part in me. It is more than just a coincidence that the last story in this collection( ‘If a book is locked, there is probably a good reason why, don’t you think?’), which is my second favourite, also has ‘book’ in its title.

About the author:

Helen Oyeyemi is a 32 year old British writer born in Nigeria, who published her first novel at the age of nineteen. She has 5 novels and two plays to her credit and this short story collection is the most recent one. She received the Somerset Maugham award in 2010 and was included in Granta Young British Novelists list in 2013. She won the PEN Open book award in 2016 for this short story collection.

What I found unique in this collection:

  1. This is my first experience reading short stories where a single inanimate object like a key occupied a literal and metaphorical role in all the stories in a collection. Of course, I have come across books with stories on themes like gender, war, exile, immigrants etc. But what makes this collection special is Helen Oyeyeami’s proficiency in incorporating an inert object like a key in all the stories, making her one of the most  inventive and promising writers in English.
  2. Generally multiple plots and characters are features that distinguish a novel from a short story. A short story usually revolves around a single plot with limited number of characters. I was taken aback when I realised that each short story written by Oyeyemi had the potential to become a novel on its own. The moment you decided the story was going to be about a particular character, the narration effortlessly unfolded in some other uncharted direction and left you gasping and astonished. At every turn of a page, there existed the possibility of a new character or sub story awaiting discovery. Kate Clanchy in Guardian has aptly reviewed this collection as ‘it’s all about misdirection’.
  3. Usually short stories, due to their limitation in length, fail to create a powerful imagery in our minds as deftly as a novel does. In a well written novel, the time spend with the characters is longer and hence many a times, reading a good novel evokes the feeling of having lived with the characters in it. Helen Oyeyemi has wonderfully crafted her short stories that while I read it, I was transported in time and space to that world, unsure of the breach in real and imaginary.

Why I recommend this book:

Helen Oyeyemi’s exceptional writing style reminded me of the ease of flow of a river. No hurdles. No complicated sentences. No difficult words.  You don’t even realise how one word, sentence, character or image merges , complementing each other. Continuity in narration simulated the experience of watching a movie uninterrupted.  Or perhaps it evoked the feeling of a dream. If you love to dream while awake, if you enjoy being transgressed beyond the confines of your four walls, please don’t hesitate to get hold of this book! People who cannot appreciate the beauty of dreams or  magical realism as a genre, please stay away!

Book 16: Aurangzeb: The man and myth by Audrey Truschke

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This book with 216 pages can be read at one go, unlike most historical texts, without any interruption created by confusing facts or complicated sentences. It gives an avant-garde perspective on Aurangzeb, who was the sixth Mughal Emperor held responsible for igniting the collapse of the Mughal Empire in India. The author, Audrey Truschke is an assistant professor of  South Asian history at Rutgers University in New Jersey who focuses on the cultural, imperial and intellectual history of early modern and modern India. In her first book titled, ‘Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court’, she investigates the role of Sanskrit in Persian speaking Islamic Mughal courts.

Since I have not read history as a subject after high school, I recognise that I am not in a position to give any comment regarding the authenticity of the content of this book. Since I have not read any standard reference history text on this subject, I am ignorant about the other plausible factual historical narratives. But I adore the author for her intelligent arguments and objective treatment of the subject. With the precision of writing a scientific paper, the author has made her postulation against the popular notion of Aurangzeb as a perpetuator of violence and utmost cruelty. But her language and writing style is not monotonous and boring, making it an interesting read even for a fiction lover. Truschke tries to provide a realistic view about the human being Aurangzeb was, by maintaining a neutral tone throughout. She makes another significant argument that, to judge a ruler of an ancient era by the standards of modern society is nothing but illogical.

This book is important in this era where fanatics find fault with Kareena and Saif Ali Khan for naming their son as Taimur(Timur was a Turco Mongol conqueror and great-great-great grandfather of Babur). This book needs to be circulated in our country where people feel ‘Aurangzeb road’ is ‘cruel’ and has to be renamed. (This happened in 2015, when Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi was renamed as APJ Abdul Kalam Road). This book should be discussed in our country where it has been proposed to rename Dalhousie road in New Delhi after Dara Shikoh, brother of Aurangzeb, who is supposed to be ‘kind hearted’ and a better human being. (Fact is that all four sons of Shah Jahan were involved in the dirty war to climb the Peacock Throne). Portrayal of Mughal rulers especially Babar and Aurangzeb as ‘Muslim traitors’ is nothing but distortion of historical facts and seasoned politicians are using it for political gains by inciting hatred among citizens of this country . Truschke does not attempt a one-to-one argument against the existing beliefs. Instead she approaches it with the earnestness of an inquisitive enquirer and comes up with an alternate narrative which would help us to view Aurangzeb in a different light. The two star rating on Amazon and the 3.5 star rating on Goodreads that this book has got, reflects the tolerance level and understanding of our people who never leave a chance to boast about the ‘all-encompassing , tolerant and non violent Hindu culture’! This book is a must read to appreciate the techniques historians use to substantiate their arguments and to reaffirm the fact that history is not only about the past but also essentially about the present.

 

Book 15: The High Priestess Never Marries By Sharanya Manivannan

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How I got hold of this book:

I came across a blog titled ‘Three Strong Women’ which was about three women writers who dominated the reading life of the author in last 6 months. (https://iamagreedyreader.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/three-strong-voices/).

One of them was KR Meera, who happened to be my all time favourite writer in Malayalam, whose words, imagination and thoughts have never failed to leave me in awe and adoration. Since Sharanya Manivannan was placed on par with my favourite author, I thought I should get to know her writing. Sharanya Manivannan writes poetry in English and this book is her first collection of stories.

What is this book about?

This is supposed to be a ‘short story’ collection. A short story, by definition,  can have  words ranging from 1000 to 20,000.  So most of the 26 stories in this collection about women who live on their own terms, do qualify to be classified as ‘short stories’ though some of them are too short and some of them are too long.

What are the positive aspects of this book? 

  1. The writer has used words directly from Tamil, the local language spoken in Chennai interspersed with English without taking any effort to clarify the meaning of those words or putting them down in italics. By this undertaking, poverty of English language compared to vernacular language is exposed.
  2. Some of the imageries used are lucid and poetic( Sharanya is essentially a poet)
  3. All the stories have women as central characters. I appreciate women who write about women.

What are the drawbacks of this book? 

At the outset, let me be clear that I am neither a writer nor a trained reviewer. All I know is to read and feel what is written.

  1. Sadly, I could not appreciate the craft of story telling in any of the story in this collection. The ‘stories’ are narrated in first person. Many a times, my mind strayed away and I had to forcefully make myself come back to the story. They all simulated   solitary, narcissistic elocution by different women.
  2. Some of the words used are complicated and instead of becoming an evidence of the author’s command on  English language, they kill the joy of reading. Those words don’t serve any special purpose and feel like stones amidst tasty food.
  3. The women in most of the stories are considered ‘liberated’ because of the sexual choices they make. I don’t believe that sexual liberation alone will lead to improvement in womens’ affair. That alone cannot be considered as a yardstick for measuring women empowerment. After reading about even stronger and more real women in stories and real life, I could not admire( leave aside admiration), nor could empathise with a single woman in any of those stories.
  4. Explicit description of sex in many stories did more harm to those stories than good. A good short story has to be really short and subtle. The words have to be weaved in the right proportion and direction so as to make an impact.
  5. I really doubt whether the author believes in anything that she has written. Because the moment an artist believes in his/her own art, the outcome will never fail to  touch human hearts.
  6. One of my very close companion said something very relevant and important, about beauty being an essential component of art. Beauty in lines, strokes, words or actions makes every art form divine. Sharanya’s stories lack beauty as far as I understand.
  7. To be short, I did not like what I read.

I am not sure whether my sky high expectation about the writer curbed my ability to enjoy the stories and may be I should get hold of her poetry to appreciate her talent.

Book 14: Heroines by Ira Mukhoty

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Heroines by Ira Mukhoty is a concise compilation of the personal histories of eight powerful women in India, spanning across centuries, but with one distinct collective characteristic, which is the desire to live life on one’s own terms. The author gives a realistic account of the character of these women including Draupadi and Radha from Indian mythology and Ambapali, Razia Sultan, Hazrat mahal, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Jahanara Begum and Meera Bai from Indian history.

When you read history or mythology in detail, you come to a horrid realisation that the status of women has not undergone any substantial change from those times to the present day. Of course many of my ‘educated- well-settled- middle class- women ‘ friends might not concur to this observation because they choose to be ignorant and blind by refusing to open their eyes or hearts. Every single day at work, I come across women who are in peculiar life situations just because they are women. I listen to men and women talk about gender, sex selection, child rearing, marriage and reproduction on a  daily basis, strengthening my impression that no paramount change has happened in the patriarchal belief system of our society from the time of Mahabharata. The position as the ‘second sex’ still undeniably belongs to women; of course, minor suppositious changes are all that have emerged.

Ira Mukhoty has not failed to bring out the humane side of  emotions  these heroic women had. For example, Draupadi questioned the right of a husband over wife  in the King’s court; but the same woman was the one who ridiculed Duryodhana and Karna. Radha loved Krishna effortlessly but was jealous of other women enjoying Krishna’s company.  Rani Lakshmi Bai, who fought valiantly against the British, did not hesitate to spend money on decoration of her war tents! These contradictions are what that make these characters more appealing and believable.

Even today, this  book does not lose its relevance. People may argue maliciously about  the need to rewrite such gallant stories about women. People tend to conveniently forget the stories and struggles of the weaker sections with ease because history is often narrated by the stronger and louder. To remind people about the past and to make them contemplate and reflect,  repeated affirmations are necessary. Many a times, to be heard, you need to shout and be obvious. Ira Mukhoty’s effort in this direction needs to be appreciated.

Book 13 Yuganta: The end of an epoch by Irawati Karve

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This book which came as a gift from a dear friend, was written by Irawati Karve in Marathi , translated to English by W. Norman Brown and published in 1967. The book has impartial, unbiased essays on some of the characters  in Mahabharata, like Kunti, Krishna, Gandhari, Draupadi, Vidura etc. Mahabharata fascinates a scholar and a lay person alike for its composite display of characters, human behaviour and documentation of lives of people in that era. This book arrived late in my reading life and many of the arguments and observations made were already familiar to me from other books on the subject and by listening to talks on Mahabharata by Marxist scholar, Dr Sunil P Elayidom (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKwxZWrSi3o).

There would be hardly any bibliophile Malayali who has not read MT Vasudevan Nair’s novel ‘Randamoozham'(Bhima in English),published in 1984. Some of the ideas mentioned in Karve’s book could have influenced MT in writing Randamoozham. (I am stating this because I read a review where it was mentioned that most of the ideas in Karve’s book were ‘already mentioned’ in MT’s Randamoozham!)

Mahabharata endures the test of  time and space. Of course that is why it is labelled  an epic. Karve’s observations on  parts of the story that could have been later added to the main text by Brahmins when they got hold of it, are intriguing.  Karve remarks that Krishna was never a God in Mahabharata and projecting Krishna as a butter thief, thief of women’s hearts and a divine God came much later. Karve’s comments are impartial, objective and intelligent. Her deductions are made based on logic and not on assumptions. Karve has tried to bring out the human being in every character in Mahabharata and has tried to portray them in shades of grey, which is perhaps the true shade of human beings.  That makes them more real and human, unlike Rama and Sita in Ramayana. Mahabharata makes us realise that we are all amalgamation of good and bad and many a times it is contextual. Mahabharata does not promise any solution to our problems as human beings. Mahabharata focuses on living our lives as we are without worrying about consequences. There is nothing to be learnt or taught. Just awareness of what is happening till we lose awareness is all that is needed to be done.

Karve’s book should be read by anyone interested in understanding Mahbharatha and its characters as they are, although many of the ideas discussed have lost its novelty in present day era. Definitely Karve deserves a lot of respect because she was the first woman anthropologist in India who went to Germany to take PhD after marriage, in a era when female education itself was unheard of.