Kavita Kane, the best-selling author of Karna’s Wife: The Outcast’s Queen and Sita’s Sister, is one of my favorite authors of the genre mythological fiction in India. What Kavita Kane aims at is nothing short of reinventing the supposedly “minor” characters that receive mere mentions in mythological narratives. Every mention that you, as a reader, may fleetingly remember from mythology, takes on a more luminous quality through her tightly constructed narrative.
In Karna’s Wife, Kavita Kane brings to life the heart-wrenching story of a Uruvi. How many readers knew that Karna had a wife who had been betrothed to Arjuna? That she put her love for Karna above everything else, tried her best to steer him away from her cousin Duryodhana’s influence and in the end, she crumples as a great warrior is brought down on the battlefield, by deceit.
We didn’t know she existed. Till Karna’s Wife made it to the bookshelves.
Undoubtedly, Karna’s Wife is a truly stunning debut, beautifully written and profoundly thought-provoking.
Kavita Kane’s second book, Sita’s Sister, is equally explorative. The English translations of the Ramayana, as we have read it, focus on Sita, with merely symbolic references to her younger sister Urmila, who is the only biological daughter of King Janaka and his Queen. She is happy to live in the shadow of her older sister, always letting her sister be the ‘apple of the parents’ eye’. Urmila’s transition, from being Sita’s Sister to Lakshmana’s wife, is peppered with life’s ups and downs. That is when Urmila makes a bold choice – to stay back while her husband accompanies his brother. Why did Urmila choose to stay back and not accompany the man she loves, as her sister had done?
More importantly, Sita’s Sister also recounts, in detail, Urmila’s emotional life after her husband leaves, her friendships with the three mothers – Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra and her love for her husband and, above all, her decision to move forward in her life, without the two people she loved most – Sita and Lakshmana.
And it’s this courage and conviction in Urmila’s character that sets her apart from other female characters in the Ramayana.
In an interview to University Express, Kavita Kane said, “Mythology is an extended study of human strength and fallacies.” She draws upon her creative imagination to breathe renewed life into the characters she shapes. Like potter’s clay, they meld into a vast canvas and become lead players, gliding like gently falling rain into the consciousness of the readers.
It’s this that makes Kavita Kane’s books so enjoyable – this, and the delight she takes in reinventing the world of simple characters who have complex strengths inside: Karna’s wife called Uruvi, Sita’s sister called Urmila and most recently, a beautiful apsara called Menaka.
Swapna Raghu Sanand is the author of Tryst with Divinity, Pearl of Divinity & Blossoms (An Anthology of Poems). She lives inside the pages of the books that she reads and feels heartbroken when she has to move on to the next one. Her writings are based on her personal spiritual experiences. She blogs at Petals and is active on Twitter.