Almost every Indian at some point in their life has heard, seen or read something if not everything from Mahabharata. But not sure if anyone remembers or has heard of Urvi, Karna’s wife. Who is this unnoticed, often even unmentioned and unheard of character from such an epic tale…is was what brought a bunch of people together to the meet and greet Kavita Kane, the author of Karna’s Wife – The Outcast’s Queen, at Gyaan Adab on the evening of February 7th.
What unfolded over the next 2 hours was what Kavita Kane, had envisioned her debut novel, would do. Bring Urvi, to life and make the reader glimpse into the pysche of a woman who was closest and yet, not…to Mahabharat’s most enigmatic character Karna. The book, told from Uruvi’s point of view, unfolds against the backdrop of the epic struggle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, lyrical and inventive. It’s a moving story of Love against all odds.
The author felt the need to pen this unique fly-on-the-wall piece of fiction in order to get a woman’s perspective on the evolution of a man, father and husband, the more doomed than damned Karna as she puts it. In order to peel the layers and look at the various shades, that the very humane and human hero Karna, one needs to see him first, in the foreground, from the perspective of someone who knows him, loves him and yet, can’t help being disappointed with him. In the book, Kavita sets about telling Urvi’s story; her journey from a girl to a woman, to a life with a husband who’s pledged his everything to Duryodhana. Living with the notion that the one you love, has given his all to someone else, coming to terms with it and living out her own convictions.
Kavita, wrote this book with young adults and today’s generation of Indians who grew up without listening to grandparents retelling them stories from the Mahabharata. Its written with all those in mind, that want to know more about this epic and its diverse characters, who in her words and rightly so, each deserve a book in their own right. She categorizes this book as an ancient mythological fiction and drew her facts from C. Rajagopalachari’s version of the Mahabharata which was her primary research tool, as well as essays written by several scholars on this epic and took her 10 months in all to write, once the research was completed.
The journalist cum author’s main motivation, to write the 90,000 word book and keep its 23 chapters short and crisp were her two teenage daughters, to who’s unanswered questions on the epic, she felt she owed a little more explanation than what was already available. Kavita was candid enough to admit during the conversation with her audience, that though her older daughter liked the book she did mention that there weren’t any “steamy scenes” woven into the fictional plot to entice readers. Her explanation was that she had consciously kept the flavour of the book Vanilla keeping in mind that her own mother, uncle, aunts and her children would be part of her expanding as we speak reader base.
On being asked what she would like young authors or novices who want to write, to keep in mind, Kavita said the following helps; a good story to tell, ignorance of the reader – meaning, through your words you’ve got to tell them something they don’t already know, be dispassionate about the book once its finished and lastly, how convincingly you tell the story. The author has also observed during her book tour that these days reading was a trend and not a habit and it’s cool to be seen reading or holding an Indian bestseller in hand. However, she was surprised to find that the bulk of her reader base is from the Northern India where her book had struck a chord with the young and old alike. A very reassuring and positive feedback she received was someone who would neither read nor had read her book was the person putting up the posters during the book launch at a street in Delhi. The middle aged man apparently seems to have asked someone from Rupa, the books publisher, what the book was all about while pastigthe posters and when told it was on an aspect of Karna’s life replied then it’s going to sell like hot cakes as there’s a Karna and Arjun in every household in this country.
We at Gyaan Adab ascribe to this man’s prophecy as well and hope to see Karna’s Wife – The Outcast’s Queen reaching a much wider reader base and creating a thirst for more books from Kavita Kane’s ouvre in the future as well. Leaving you with some excerpts of the passages that Kavita read from this book and hope that it makes you want to buy the book; know more about Urvi, a woman we know so little about, living in a time from the past, the tenets of which are relevant even today.