Sita’s Sister

There is something intriguing about Kavita Kane, the author of Sita’s Sister, her second book after the bestseller Karna’s Wife. A hardcore feminist, as her writings depict, she somehow manages to keep her readers glued to the contents of her book. If Karna’s Wife speaks about the life of Uruvi then Sita’s Sister has Urmila as the protagonist. How often have we read Ramayana? How often have we heard about Rama, Lakshman and Sita? How often have we read about their adventures during their fourteen-year exile? Many a time, right? We have been hearing stories about how to be an ideal son like Rama, how to be an ideal brother like Lakshman, Bharat or Shatrughna, how to be an ideal wife like Sita. Apart from this, we have also heard our grandmas and grandpas literally ordering us about how not to be like Kaikeyi, how not to be like Dashrath. What happens if you realize that the story that you have been listening to since your childhood is hogwash? What happens if you realize that the story is not what it seems to be? Your mind would experience a crushing moment. That is what Kavita Kane successfully does, crash your myths, break your mentality and makes you question yourself, “Was I right in judging this particular character?”

Plot: This is the story of the princess of Mithila. The daughter of King Janak and Queen Sunaina. No. This is not about Sita. This is about their blood daughter Urmila. The real princess of Mithila, famously known as Sita’s sister and Lakshman’s wife. Urmila or Urmi (called by her sisters Sita, Mandavi and Kirti) or Mila (called by Lakshman), is a woman who loves taking a stand against the wrong and fighting for the right. She is passionate about learning Vedas, Upanishads and have a healthy debate over them. Painting, for her, is a stress-buster. The plot revolves around the early days of her life spent in Mithila along with her sisters until she and her three sisters get married to the princes of Kosala, the sons of King Dashrath and Queens Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra.

The book comprises of many instances like the swayamvara episode where she and Lakshman save each other’s lives indirectly. It talks about her homecoming to her in-law’s palace, surviving the evil schemes of Manthara, the fourteen-year exile of Rama, Lakshman and Sita, the way she handles the household affairs as well as the royal affairs, she takes on Kaikeyi (whom everyone considers evil) till the return of the trio. It talks about what happens in the palace after the trio leave for their exile. It talks about her strength, vulnerability, integrity and most important of all, the book highlights the maturity of the woman who suffered the most when her sister and her husband chose exile over her.

My Take: Writing about the plot in detail will spoil the fun of reading the book. Kavita Kane has outdone herself through this book. If Karna’s Wife portrayed Uruvi as a snobbish woman then Sita’s Sister has portrayed Urmila as an ideal woman. Urmila makes the reader wish to have a daughter, a daughter-in-law like her. Urmila is almost everything that a man wants in his wife. Urmila, in the true spirit, invokes respect for the feminine gender in men. Urmila celebrates the very being of a woman. I remember myself saying how Karna’s wife Uruvi was not an ideal woman. Thankfully, by writing about Urmila, Kavita Kane truly shows what a true woman is like. Ramayana talks about the idealists like Rama, Sita and Lakshman. However, Kavita Kane’s book shows the person who deserves to be ideal for women. Sita’s Sister is the untold story of Ramayana, the gender-biased society that has prevailed since ancient times, the victory over one’s weaknesses, the penance of Urmila. In short, Sita’s Sister is the celebration of womanhood and the pride of being a woman of substance.

Peace, Poetry and Power

Bhavin Shah