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I have just finished reading The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee and I find myself viewing the well known epic Mahabharat from an entirely different angle. The author ought to be commended for approaching the epic from Draupadi s point of view. I would not say that I have never wondered how Draupadi felt on being married to five men or how she felt after the war was won. After all she was instrumental in pitching the Pandavas and Kauravas against each other and at the end of it just the five Pandav brothers remained. Draupadi lost her sons, brother, father and a whole lot of well wishers just because they chose to support her cause. Did she feel avenged or did she feel guilty? The book had answers to many questions that would often come to my mind. The concluding chapters were the best. Draupadi mellows down and realizes that the price paid to restore her honor was heavy and works towards counseling and rehabilitating war widows. She finally learns to let go. I would suggest book lovers to get hold of the book and enjoy it. It has a romantic side too harping on Draupadi s unfulfilled love for Karna that remains buried in her heart till death. A review of the book is available here.
Reading the book I remembered something that experienced years ago. Oh no, it was not anywhere near what Draupadi went through but a very mild form of spitefulness perhaps? I am glad that I was appropriately counseled by an older cousin and I was sensible enough to listen to her.
I had just bought the first Kancheepuram silk sari after my marriage and had not decided whether to gift it to my mother who was turning sixty or keep it for myself. I wanted to give it to my mother but felt that if all of us brothers and sisters contributed we could get her something better. Anyway, there was time so I kept it in my almirah and accompanied a group of students to a 5 day study tour. My husband s younger sister was to visit us with her children but I would not be there to receive her. I knew she would understand so I was not too worried. Puja vacations had begun and I would be able to give them my time and attention for the remaining week of their stay. So what if I had not been available on their arrival. My sister in law and me were like friends so it did not matter. However, I was in for a shock when I returned. My husband had shown the silk sari to my SIL and asked her to keep it if she wanted. She had protested saying that I may have bought it for myself. My ever generous husband had said that I would not mind and I could always get another one. I did not know how to react. Luckily my discretion prevailed and I did not make it an issue.
It was very upsetting that my husband should have gifted something that belonged to me knowing that I had thought of giving to my mother on her sixtieth birthday. I had a cousin working in LIC and since she lived far away I would drop in at her office after college. We would have tea together and catch up on family news. I narrated the incident to her and went on to say that my husband was outright mean to do something like that. I had the right to decide what to do with the sari and he could always take his sister to the shop and buy her a sari of her choice. It was not her fault since she did not open my cupboard and ask for it . I would have gone on and on but my cousin s words of wisdom calmed me down.
Your relationship with your sister in law far outweighs the worth of the sari she said. I know it hurts when people take advantage so what if it is the husband. Believe me this is not an issue over which you ought to lose sleep. Your love for your sister is natural but with your husband s sister it has to be built up. Let not this minor hiccup spoil a beautiful relationship that is being built on the foundation of mutual affection and trust .
Somehow at the age of thirty three I had been foolish to think that a sari mattered more over cordiality. But I had a lot of regard for my older cousin and I left it at that. When I arrange my cupboard today I feel ashamed that I ever resented the gift of a sari to my sister in law. I have at least 8 silk saris gifted to me by her on various occasions. They include Kancheepurams, Pochanpalli, Sambhalpur silk, silk cotton and Murshidabad pure silk. The occasions were my 25th wedding anniversary, her son s thread ceremony and wedding, her daughter s wedding , my husband s shashtiabdapoorty (sixtieth birthday), the house warming of her Bangalore house and one was given for navaratri just like that. Apart from this I ve been given beautiful Orissa handloom saris that improve with every wash very pretty and classy. How is that for a list?
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