It is funny how the title can itself lead to so many readings of what the book entails…”Other Tales they don’t tell us…”
The stories in the book retold by Devdutt seem to be stories that were always there. But at least the title seems to tell the readers that they were somehow not actively passed on. it is as if there was some restraining order on these stories.. stories withdrawn from the larger public for some reason, and these reasons make them all the more mysterious and therefore, the demand to read 🙂 Even though the book is not part of the genre of mystery and thriller, the title kind of gives it that edge of mmm what is it, if not a whodunit 😛
Therefore, I feel the title invites the readers to explore the seemingly unexplored, of the suppressed, not talked about.. in addition to think about how certain stories are there and some are not.. it is about what trickles down as history, stories, what all gets to be talked about and circulated….
Writing about myths has its good and bad.. and the good is, that it is in the realm of the familiar.. Devdutt need not explain a lot to his readers, if they are Indians or well read on Hindu myths.. most of us would have heard these stories over and over again from some source if we live or have lived in India… it is difficult not to come by or ignore them.. they are so in the face every where.
the bad is, exactly the same familiar, which makes it difficult to make the stories interesting ..One of the ways he works this out is by giving additional background and context. The very act of pooling together stories from different mythological sources on a given theme , here the third gender, makes it a new collection.. we may have come across these stories, but reading so many of them together in this given context gives it a perspective..
The very title of the book seems to be an invitation to enter a room filled to the brim with stories.. we are familiar with most of them, it could be even in a scattered kind of way, at some level, we all know the story of the Pandavas, our Gods and goddesses… If not grandparents and parents, we had our B R Chopra with his tales on national television and the like..in the 90s
I think it is because of this Mahabharata, this programme used to be aired on Sundays, that I can only think of Mukhesh Khanna as anyone but Bhishma. and that too, the image of him in his silver coloured clothes on the bed of arrows. It is curious that I don’t remember him at first as his later avatar of the first televised Indian superhero, Shaktimaan. If it is a coincidence, the image I have of Khanna- Bhisma is brought about in the tale by none other than Shikhandi..
“Drupada was happy to finally get a son, but then, to his dismay, Shikhandi in a rather cavalier moment placed around his neck Amba’s garland of ever-fresh lotus flower that for years had been hanging on a pillar of his palace. ‘He will kill Bhisma,’ moaned Drupada, ‘But I need a son who will kill Drona.”(Devdutt Pattnaik, Shikhandi & Other Tales They Don’t Tell You, pg 43)
The title of the book says, “Shikhandi and other tales they don’t tell you” .. and quite aptly, we all seem to know about Shikhandi.. Devdutt begins his set with the story of Shikandi..and then he goes on the tell us other tales of transformation and births.
The book was recommended to me by Uma.. in passing, during our conversations in the Jsquad 🙂
Cross posted as part of Teaser Tuesdays on pins & ashes