Title: Uttarakaanda (Kannada)
Writers : S L Bhyrappa
Published: 2017
Genre: Fiction
My Rating: 3 on 5

Reading has been going good this year so far. I have read quite a couple of books (and well ahead of my yearly goals), but not all of them were review worthy so did not get a mention on this blog. I am also consciously trying more local writing and this book was part of that attempt.

S L Bhyrappa is no stranger to Kannada people. He has many popular books under his belt and he is best known for his fluid writing and the subject he chooses which make you ponder. Compared to his other books, Uttarakaanda is touching a more common topic but is no less thought provoking.

Uttarakaanda is the story of Ramayana from the perspective of Sita. Bhyrappa has kept the story as is – no manipulations, no deviations (except for the part of Ahalya) but still manages to make you look at the often-told story in a completely different light. The book is written in Sita’s POV in first person narrative. It begins at the time Rama throws out Sita from his kingdom and abandons her at Valmiki’s ashram. It then goes back and forth into past and present – meandering between Sita’s birth (or discovery), her childhood and her eventual marriage and her exile period.

While Sita is narrating her story, one cannot miss the importance Bhyrappa has given to highlight her relationship with the people around her. Owing to her unknown origins, she did not have a rosy childhood. While her father treated her like his own, she did not get the same treatment from her mother. She develops a very close bonding with her sister and cousins and eventually is respected and admired by the people in the entire kingdom. After her wedding, her narrative focus continues to be on her bitter-sweet relationship with her husband. While she is happy and proud that she gets to be the wife such a well respected man, she also finds Rama aloof and unemotional. She expects him to emote and express but finds him still and stagnant, no matter the situation.

The story continues through their exile and her eventual kidnapping by Ravana and the rest and then culminates in Sita’s death. All through the journey, Sita’s pain and suffering is so eloquently expressed that one feels angry and sad on Sita’s behalf. Her undoubted dedication to her husband but being doubted by the same person and finally being thrown away – Sita’s love turns into hatred for Rama. Her moment of triumph comes when Rama asks her to come back during his yagna but she flatly refuses. We will never know what Rama went through, but Sita is in a state of moral victory.

Sita ends up being in Lanka, in the midst of hundreds of enemies and a lustful king for many years. She continues to stand her ground, keep up her fight and never lets her resolve waiver and this is what is considered as the greatest victory of Sita. Any other woman in her place might have weakened and accepted death as a welcome alternative. I was hoping to see this as the main focus of the book, but it isn’t as elaborate as I had hoped it would be.

There is no surprise either in the story or the characters. But to see the same saga being retold from Sita’s eyes and to read it in Bhyrappa’s words make this book a very engaging read. If you are looking for answers for some age old questions, you will not find them here. If anything, it will only increase your list of questions.



Nammamma andre nanagishta, Yugadi – Vasudhendra

I have reviewed these books in Kannada. You can read the review here.

Two books that mesmerized me while I was reading them and which continue to do so even now, long after I have  put them down. If you can read Kannada, then please do read these books.

Baagilindaache, pogadirelo ranga : Vasudendra

This does not qualify as a book review, but hardly does one come across a gem in the regional languages section. I am proud to write a review of a Kannada short story I recently read.

The story is “Baagilindaache, pogadirelo ranga” by Vasudhendra. The story borrows its title from the famous Kannada song which starts with the same words, but the story itself has very little to do with the song. I am not an avid Kannada reader, but when I read this story, I felt sorry for myself for not keeping myself up to date on Kannada literature front.

The story is about a 13-year old boy, Putta, who visits his grandmother during his vacation. The story spans over 2 days of this boy’s life and covers all emotions and experiences that a boy of his age can have. The boy acts childish, under-aged compared to his actual age, but probably that was intentional. The characters are etched beautifully, especially the boy, Putta and his friend, Tayanna.

The story gives a stark contrast of a village life and a city life. One can’t help feeling sorry for Putta who has always grown up in his mother’s care. Once he leaves her saree end and enters the village life does he realize what he had been missing. He sees Tayanna as a completely different person even though both are of the same age. Once Putta realizes how different and inferior he is compared to Tayanna, his life changes.

The story moves quickly. Writing is smooth, though at times the sentences become too long and the dialogues are written as sentences, which become quite cumbersome to read. Good use of names and dialogues seem natural.

A very good story which touched me deeply because I am one of those fortunate ones who was born and brought up in a village. Now I live in a city and feel sorry for all the kids here.

You can read the story online.  Please note that the story is in Kannada font. If you have trouble reading it in Firefox, try it in IE.

Courtesy: Vikrant Karnataka.