My only memory of Surpanakha was from a fleeting mention of her in Mythology, The Ramayan to be precise. I knew of her as Ravan’s ugly sister who was attracted to and tried to entice Laxman and had her nose and ears cut off as a punishment and to teach her a lesson.
Kavita Kane takes this commonly known skeletal description and uses her imagination and words to paint a complete picture of the little known Lanka’s Princess.
Surpanakha was named Meenakshi – the one with beautiful, fish-shaped eyes- because of her mesmerising golden hued eyes at birth and loathed by her mother, Kaikesi, ever since. As, a daughter after 3 Sons, Ravan, Kumbhakarn and Vibhishan, was still unwelcome and looking at her ‘ugly face and prominent curved, like claws, nails’ her mother secretly referred to her as Chandranakha.
She grew up watching Ravan, her eldest brother and the apple of her mother’s eyes being cherished and applauded even as she was neglected and all that came her way were taunts and jibes. Ravan was the one who bestowed the name Surpanakha – as hard as nails- upon her after she attacked him by gouging at him with her nails for killing her pet goat, Maya. And the name not only stuck but went on to become her personality, with each passing year and incident firmly rooting her head strong and defensive temperament.
Puberty bought with it a gift of beauty and Surpanaka blossomed into an attractive young lady physically and a shrewd, manipulative schemer mentally. Armed with the knowledge of magic and witchcraft taught to her by her Asura Grandmother even as her brothers were tutored in the Vedas, Upanishads by their Rishi father, she was beautiful and dangerous. The grudge of never having been treated fairly kept growing alongside the thirst for vengeance from her family. Ravan was her special target and she secretly vowed to destroy him at any cost. Little realising that the cost she would be paying with would be immense.
Marrying her brother’s enemy, Vidyujiva, against the wishes of her family was the first step in her plan of revenge. A move that she thought was calculated and would bring her happiness and grief to her family, but did it? Did her cunning plans work, or did they backfire? Did she find love and acceptance or gain anger and bitterness which fanned the flames of vengeance even further?
Kavita Kane writes simply and beautifully. Her descriptive language brought alive the lavishness of Lanka and the many layers of Surapanakha’s personality beautifully. Kane’s words roped me in immediately and as the story progressed I found myself going through a myriad of emotions directed at, and sometimes with, Surapanakha. The story makes you reflect at what is right and what is not, and whether what you’ve believed them to be so far is the truth. An easy and engrossing read, and a book that calls out to you with its stunning cover and a story to match.
I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.