This is the second book of Preetha Rajah Kannan I am reading. I had loved Shiva in the City of Nectar. The book and a few other blogs had inspired me to travel to Madurai during the summer vacations. So, when Jaico Publishing asked me to review this book, I was more than happy to take the offer.
The Hindu religion is full of stories. In fact, in today’s terms, I would call it mythological fantasy. Each story more fantastic than the other. There are the numerous re-tellings, and local village stories pertaining to the Gods. There is so much of religious literature in local languages that we the English readers are missing it. So, I am glad that Preetha has compiled a treasure trove of stories based upon the Tamil writings primarily from the book Sri Kandhapuranam written by Dr. Akila Sivaraman and other sources. So, is this a translation? Not really. The stories are put together following a sequence of events. Back stories are highlighted as and when a character is touched upon.
Though the book is about Kartik, the Son of Shiva, it is also the essential story of Shiva. Kartik’s birth is not accidental. There was a very determined reason for the birth of Kartik. He is destined to be a great warrior. He will be Devasenapati. To a large extent, his life purpose was decided on even before he was conceived. Much like us parents imagining our children to be NASA astronauts and scientists, eh? A little over half of the book is dedicated to Shiva. Once Kartik is born, he is the star.
It takes me back to my childhood spent in Kerala during summer vacations. There was no electricity in those days. People followed a different way of life. They woke up when the sun rose and slept when the sunset. 6 pm was dinner and 7 is snooze time. Then we would wake up around midnight. It would be the heat or nature’s call. Before getting back to sleep, we had a light snack. Someone would start telling us stories. Many times, it was my grandmother, who heard it from her mother. My mother’s sisters or kunjammas would fill in the gaps in the story. Because you see, every oral rendition would have its own flavour.
Similarly, this book has a very folk tales kind of feel with it’s simple English and straight forward story telling. I simply enjoyed reading this one and look forward to her next book. I wonder which God it will be. Could it be the other famous Son of Shiva and the darling of the South, Ayyappa?