“Above us our palace waits, the only one I’ve ever needed. Its walls are space, its floor is sky, its center everywhere. We rise; the shapes cluster around us in welcome, dissolving and forming again like fireflies in a summer evening.”
– Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Chitra Divakaruni has created magic in a book. The timeless tale of the Indian epic told from the perspective of Draupadi, feels like a different read altogether. Almost everyone in India has grown up hearing stories of Mahabharata, and reading it from Draupadi’s point of view was definitely an experience.
The book captures your attention from the very first chapter, as you dive in to her life; you feel what she’s feeling, adore what she loves and abhor what she hates. The writing is so beautiful that it tightens your heart with every word.
I felt her longing for Karna as she waited for him to show up for Swayamvar, her guilt when she had to hurt him for the sake of her Kingdom. Her rage, humiliation and hurt poured through the pages when Dushasana was ordered to open her sari and her relief on being saved was palpable.
By creating a side character of the epic into the protagonist, Divakaruni spun a tale of gold. When I had read the stories of Mahabharata I never gave much thought to Panchali and her sorrows, but after I read the book I gained a whole other insight. Although initially I felt annoyed with her quite often and was very disappointed by some of the thought processes behind her decision, later I understood why I felt so; Divakaruni had created a character of religious importance into a very humane one.
Another reason why the book became one which I adored was because of its writing style. Many paragraphs and chapter ended on such a note that I simply needed to read further. Maybe that’s why I completed it in a day.
Books are a person’s best friend, especially when they are written like The Palace of Illusions is.