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The Untold Story Of Seeta
Authors: Ms. Neeraja Phatak 
Category: Fiction
Publication: Partridge India
Pages: 180
Weight: 190 Gm
Binding: Paperback
ISBN13: 9781482836141

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Book Review by Anjani Singh :
Think of the "Ramayan" and it's always Ram, Lakshman and Seeta - in that order that one thinks of the three deities, Seeta being the last of the three.

"The Untold Story of Seeta" by Neeraja Phatak brings Seeta centre-stage, and brings her into focus, and fills her out with and flesh and blood, making her more human than goddess, more real than imaginary and more pragmatic than ideal; yet romantic enough to acknowledge "Just then I caught sight of him, and he saw me too! Oh my God! First something burst in my head, then in my ears and my heart was pounding."

It is a novel with a story as beautifully descriptive as it is enchantingly narrated! It combines the past with the present - the ancient with the modern, tradition with new thinking "your sons should be brought up to inherit the throne not by their birth alone but by their ability". It abounds in Hindu mythology, shows a sensitive portrayal of women-" It was rather unfortunate that women whose husbands had died were not permitted to take part in the ceremonies, they were considered inauspicious."

Profound truths like -"Dharma is appropriateness in thought, action and attitude to a thing or a happening or a desire or an incident in life", are interwoven into this beautifully written story as skilfully as characters are created, with their virtues and foibles. The details of daily routines, like the cooking of food in the palace kitchens are as elaborately described as the grandeur of the wedding procession - Neeraja seems to have taken on the persona of Seeta herself, so real are the emotions, the situations and the thinking of her heroine portrayed.

Most importantly, to me the novel signifies the feminine viewpoint, not necessarily a feminist one, when Seeta says,"Would posterity ever realise that it was I who made the decisions? It was my decision to join my husband when he was asked to live in the forest for fourteen years; it was my decision to undergo a trial by fire in Lanka; it was my decision to leave Ayodhya for my sons and finally it was my decision not to subject myselfto being judged by the people of Ayodhya!"

While editing the manuscript, it was the technical aspects that kept me engaged - it is only after I have read it as a novel again, that I have been able to review it as a reader, and it has struck me as a compelling read, as engaging as it is instructive, as entertaining as it is informative and as enjoyable a novel as one I haven't read in a while by an Indian novelist on such a theme - bold and straight from the heart!
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