Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.Unknown
Sitayana has two subplots parallel to each other, one of them conceived as a reflection of the other. The first subplot revolves around the trials and tribulations of Sita, as read in the Indian epic of Ramayana. The second subplot mirrors the incidents of the mythological story to that of the real world. The present-time protagonist, Sitalakshmi suddenly goes missing and it is the responsibility of the Crime Branch to unearth the truth behind her disappearance.
For me, Sitayana was a phenomenal experience. There have been many fictional works that attempted to created a story parallel to Sita’s experiences in Ramayana. Of all the renditions I have come across, Sitayana most certainly deserves a special place. The first reason is the unanticipated suspense. The element of surprise is deftly used, so that the book has the reader at the edge of the couch till the last page. Indeed, you cannot know what happens to Sitalakshmi until you are done reading it.
Next, the depiction of emotions. The fact that the cast in the second subplot is undoubtedly round and realistic, the emotions brought forth goes in sync with the story. Another aspect that I loved reading in Sitayana is the theme. Sitayana is a double-pronged attack on two important facets of patriarchy – the independence of women, and family honour. Sitalakshmi and Sita are both subjected to utter humiliation for they are forced to fit into the moulds of the ideal wife that society decides for them. In fact, for a modern woman like Sitalakshmi, the society expects them to be selfless, faithful, and perfect while handling household chores and professional responsibilities at the same time. Secondly, the question of family honour of reputation is wonderfully addressed in Sitayana. Sita’s humiliation by Ram is all because of the issue of a woman’s chastity being dictated by society.
The question of how a social institution like family or royalty can decide whether a woman is chaste or pure is boldly presented with the help of Sitalakshmi.
However, the only aspect that seemed wrong was the comparison of Ram with the present-day Karthik. The fact that Ram should be singularly blamed for Sita’s humiliation is incorrect. In Sitayana, Ram’s dilemma as a husband and King is entirely forgotten. After all, it was Ram’s responsibility towards the throne and his subjects (meaning, society) that compelled him to let go of his duties as a husband towards Sita. Thus, the Ram-Karthik comparison remains invalid. The other two aspects which I didn’t like about Sitayana are the unnecessary elaboration of the plot, and past-present superimposition. While the main storyline of Sitayana seemed to have been elaborated with unnecessary additions, the past-present dichotomy is absurd. Indeed, there are some negative values of human nature which are yet to be erased completely, but to mirror two different worlds (one of which is entirely mythical) is very unconvincing. The times are changing, and so are some customs and ethics. Human nature and time cannot remain stagnant, and that’s the law of the universe.
Yet, I must say, Sitayana is a wonderful book that criticises the orthodox and conservative mentality of the society towards the condition of women. Characters like Sitalakshmi and Inspector Diana are exemplars of what women are capable of doing, in order to showcase the truth to the world.
Pick the book if
- You love reading Contemporary Fiction
- Mystery/Suspense is your love
- You enjoy books about Mythology
- You are looking for Thrill
15 years and above
Skip the book if
- You don’t like reading books on Suspense/Mystery
- .You don’t like reading Mythology
3 Books to read if you liked reading the book review of Sitayana by Rajnih Rethesh
About the Author
Rajnih Rethesh has worked with some leading B2B magazines such as Society Interiors and Infrastructure Today. She is a post graduate in English Literature and holds a post graduate diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication. Blog: http://rajnihrethesh.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/rajnirethesh
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