The Palace of Illusions, A Draupadi story

Image taken from : Here

“Through the long, lonely years of my childhood, when my father’s palace seemed to tighten its grip around me until I couldn’t breathe, I would go to my nurse and ask for a story. And though she knew many wondrous and edifying tales, the one I made her tell me over and over was the story of my birth. I think I liked it so much because it made me feel special, and in those days there was little else in my life that did.”

– From First Chapter “Fire” –

I’ve always been a big fan of Mahabharat’s story since its Indian adapted soap opera was aired in my elementary school days, so this novel of course would really interest me much when I first spotted it on Google (I didn’t remember the exact point where I found the title actually, but I guess it’s when I randomly searched for new novel for reading). Published on 1st January of 2008, it tells Draupadi’s point view about all events in her life, from her extraordinary birth to the worst moment of her life such as the legendary Swayamwara which made her a wife of 5 Pandu’s children and Pandavas’ lose of gamble game. What I really like about this novel is, that I’d never imagine that Draupadi who’s always been phrased as one of the only love for Arjuna could have a twisted plot as someone who loves another man while being a wife of Pandavas. And to the top of that, Chitra had chosen a phenomenal character like Karna of all people, who I’d never give much respect for.

In this novel also, I begin to see Draupadi not as a woman who’s praised by history for all her good qualities, but as someone human enough to have desires she can’t fulfill even when all people rely on her wisdom and kindness. The way its writer tells the story almost makes me feel like Draupadi was a modern-born woman, in contrast with actual description about her from the original story. Pretty unique in its own way. Especially in the first chapter, Draupadi tells how she took advantage of her unique appearance (having a black skin almost to the point of blue) and charms everyone with her beauty. In Indonesia something like this would be rarely seen since our standard of beauty is still all about white skin. But in this novel, you’ll realize that even the Holy being such as Krishna Dev is loved by all his thousand wives not because he’s strikingly white as milk. After all, He’s named after the colour of his skin, right?

Few days ago when I started writing this post draft my brother (who’s a big fan of Game of Thrones) talked about one character from this serial who seems so Modern-like with her feminist act while the series itself set in medieval age where women didn’t act like that. I failed to tell him the similarity because my brother isn’t interested in Hindu mythology, but telling him instead that it’s something people will always add when they make some stories. I myself don’t actually agree with that kind of ideology though my personality seem to lean that way. I just don’t understand the way women seem too eager to express themselves, it only looks like to me that they are too independent and not accepting men’s role as the leader. Well, it’s only my thought so it’s to all of you to accept feminicity or not. 😊

Sebagai orang yang udah berkali-kali nonton cerita Mahabarata dari adaptasi paling jadul sampai ke yang paling modern tahun 2015an lalu, aku termasuk hafal sama seperangkat kisah klasik ini baik alur maupun para tokoh yang ada di dalamnya. Menurut aku sih penulisnya kepingin menghadirkan sosok Drupadi seperti seorang yang berpikiran kritis dan modern di tengah kehidupan para wanita tradisional di masanya. Cumaaa entah kenapa yaaaa…., meskipun aku suka dengan bagaimana Draupadi diceritakan di novel ini, aku ngerasa aneh aja kalo tetiba Draupadi dikisahkan dengan banyak pemikiran kritis seperti itu. Jatohnya jadi ga cocok, kayak bukan Draupadi banget gitu. Apalagi dengan plot twist dimana Draupadi diceritakan malah jatuh cinta sama Karna, bikin aku ngerasa agak-agak keki sekaligus penasaran selama ngebaca Pallace of Illusions. Rasanya agak rancu seorang Draupadi sampai bisa mencintai Karna yang jelas-jelas mempertanyakan kehormatan dan martabatnya sebagai seorang wanita bangsawan cuma gegara dia nikah sama 5 orang bersaudara. Kalo aku dihina begitu, mau awalnya cinta kayak manapun aku ga bakal sudi lagi lihat mukanya. Soalnya meski aku bukan feminist sejati yang apa-apa bicaranya tentang hak dan kesetaraan gender, kalo orang sudah menghina pribadi seseorang itu ga pantas buat di cintai. Yah.. tapi untuk segi ide cerita memang cukup bikin aku ngerasa lega pernah berpapasan dengan novel ini. Nora Roberts pernah menulis di salah satu novelnya bahwa Jantung wanita terdapat pada rumahnya, dan Draupadi mengekspresikan dengan bagus banget betapa kehilangannya dia ketika Istana indah yang ia cintai harus dirampas akibat konspirasi. Makanya ya guys, ada alasan kenapa perjudian dalam hukum Islam sangat dilarang karena banyak sekali bukti yang menjelaskan dampak buruk yang diakibatkan. Buatku sendiri yang sudah pernah ngerasain kehilangan harta dan keutuhan keluarga akibat perjudian emang cukup relate sama cerita Mahabarata yang sarat moral dan nilai kehidupan.

I got this E-book version via Google so there’s not that difficult to read the novel for free. Or ypu can contact to have the E-book and I’ll email it to you. Aku kurang tahu apa versi terjemahan Indonesianya sudah ada atau belum, tapi kalau ada, aku rekomen banget buat kalian yang senang dengan kisah kolosal terutama Mahabarata.

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