You know what’s the best part about Mythology? Anyone can take the core elements of an epic, add two tablespoons of imagination and three teaspoons of their own interpretation to make a great recipe under the genre called Fiction. The Ramayana my grandmother told me would be slightly different from the one you heard from your grandmother. I’m not sure what was the Ramayana that Amish’s grandmother told him but what Amish has decided to tell his grandchildren is a completely different one, full of his own dose of inventiveness. What’s more, he’s managed to pull off a recipe that will be loved by all and will leave his fans wanting for more.
I had the privilege to meet Amish in person early this month, in a chapter reading event held in Delhi. He didn’t out-rightly call “Scion of Ikshvaku” a work of fiction but acknowledged that at many a place, it would have “his own interpretation” of events from the Great Epic. 10 pages into the book, I knew what he meant.
Most people who spoke of Amish that day touched upon his attention to detail. Right from the font of the book to the colour of the clouds in the book cover to the agenda of the book launch function, he has had a contribution everywhere. People who’ve known him told he’s always been this way. My admiration for the author had only gone up.
The book opens with these lines written by Khalil Ghibran:
“Parents are like a bow, and children like arrows. The more the bow bends and stretches, the farther the arrow flies.cI fly, not because I am special, but because they stretched for me”
“Scion of Ikshvaku” is not actually based on Ramayana. The two works just happen to have a lot of coincidences. 🙂 For example, Ram is born to Dashrath, married to Sita and goes to Vanvaas for 14 years. Core elements like these are same in both the works. Almost nothing apart from that, is. Which is why, “Scion of…” is unputdownable according to me.
There are story-tellers. There are master story-tellers. Then, there is Amish. He is one of the very few authors who manages (effectively) to move a story through dialogue, rather than narrative. I like that about his writing style. And surprisingly, there is a lot of humour intertwined in the dialogue throughout the book, especially the parts leading to the adolescent phase of the four brothers. Humour is used even in the most serious of scenes. If an author has an innate sense of humour, it is bound to reflect in his work too.
Ram wasn’t the perfect man. He was the perfect follower of rules. It is this aspect that keeps coming back, again and again, throughout the book. The way different scenarios pan out to put Ram into a dilemma whether to follow his dharma or choose a practical solution, is explained very beautifully in the book. Ram, of course, stood by his dharma. Now, don’t call this a spoiler. 😛
We see very little of Hanuman in the series opener. Of course, 4 more books to go. Look forward to how Amish portrays my favourite God.
“Scion of Ikshvaku” will go down in literary history as the opening act of an epic interpretation of the Ramayana, much like Cho’s “Valmiki Ramayana”, Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas, Devdutt Patnaik’s “Sita” and thousand other interpretations of the epic across centuries.
Long wait for the sequel has already begun.
P.S: You might want to read my review of “The Oath of the Vayuputras” here.