INSIDE MY HEAD
Anand Neelakantan has come up with a completely new idea in his debut novel ‘Asura: The Tale of the Vanquished’. I have waited very long for this side of the story, so as I held the book in my hands, I was really excited.
He starts with Ravana lying fatally injured in the battlefield.
“I am not afraid of death. I have been thinking of it some time now. Thousands have been slain over the last few days. Somewhere in the depths of sea, my brother Kumbha lies dead, half eaten by sharks. I lit my son Meghananda’s funeral pyre yesterday. Or was it the day before? I have lost all sense of time. I have lost the sense of many things.”
It’s really appreciable the way he showed the transformation from the land Asura once ruled to land Indra turned it to, and that too by deceit.
“The Deva capital of Amaravathi, paled before Patala- the temporary capital of the Asuras in exile. Amaravati, once a huge city at the mouth of the Saraswati river, was now a miserable shanty town”
I guess, the novel just proves the point that no evil exists, it’s just the way we see things. Because when a war wages, both side kills, rapes, burns. When Anand writes about what Sita had to say about how women should behave, it leaves me shocked, is it the same goddess many Hindus pray?
“What do you know about Deva culture? Women are worshipped as Goddesses. Our world is a far cry form yours. Here women have no morals. They move around unveiled. Men and women mix freely and there is no sanctity to your kingdom. Your women are loud. They drink and dance with men…”
I could go on but I think I have made my point.
I have read the Ramayana but after reading this one I understand how our hero changes with the writer. And what is more appreciable from the writer is the way he had projected Ravana: vulnerable, afraid at times, ambitious, kind, angry, making him all the more believable, not the invincible image we have in our mind.
However, at times, I felt that he overdid the narration a bit. And I do wish he hadn’t revealed the ugly thoughts within the mind of Ravana and Bhadra. It was okay at first, but it turned out to be very annoying when he kept doing it every two three pages.
“All I wanted to do was beat her black and blue”
“I wanted to kick him in the ribs, but I restrained” blah, blah…..
Besides this, some pages were full of clichés. I wish he had spent some more time going through another edit and refining his work.
Nevertheless, the good story and the refreshing idea will glue you to the book, making you gasp at some revelations and when you keep the book down, I am sure you will picture Bhadra sitting by the waterfall, dreaming of a time of Asura rule, when every man was considered equal, when women had total freedom, when there was no caste system. And sometimes as I look around me and see today’s world, I do wish for his dreams to come true.
Author: Anand Neelakantan
ISBN 13: 9789381576052
ISBN 10: 9381576052