Boons and Curses
Author: Yugal Joshi
Publisher: Rupa Publishers
Indian mythology is a labyrinth of stories that often weave together a lot of parallel stories that reek of patriarchy and sexism. But even then one finds guilty pleasure in reading these tales that are not consistent and do not follow a monolithic structure. The versions differ and every time you pick up a different source, you might end up being baffled and more exhausted than ever. Thus, the only way to enjoy such books is to unlearn and then absorb the stories. Recently, I finished Boons and Curses by Yugal Joshi that narrates the tales of several mythological women and throws light on their sacrifice, strength, compassion and rebellion.
Amidst hortatory speeches, vicarious atonements and the choice between vice and virtue, ‘Boons and Curses’ uses Krishna as the spokesperson and Kunti as the receiver of all the information. The real story begins after the Kurukshetra War when Kunti is regretful of her actions and her decisions. Upon asking Krishna whether she has been a bad mother, Kunti is narrated several stories that help her empathize with mothers and wives. Stories of Diti, Aditi and Kashyapa; Jabala and her son, Satyakam; Surya, Sanjana and Chhaya; Sheelavati and the sage, her husband and many more form the part of the book. Though I am not a very big fan of mythology, ‘Boons and Curses’ deserves to be praised for its smooth and easy narrative, thereby helping me traverse through the pages with ease. Using an apt title that describes the aftermath of a plethora of boons and curses that were bestowed upon different characters- be it the curse to die when you make love, the boon to produce 100 children, a curse to die at soon as the first ray of the sun lights the sky or the boon to mate with any God that one desires! Each story is guided by either a cursed or blessed character and the narrative traces the story that eventually teaches something.
The drawback, however, lies in the perplexing timeline of events, for Krishna doesn’t really follow a specific timeline to narrate the stories. Another disappointment was caused because of grammatical errors (misplaced speech marks). I have to admit that you might be repulsed reading about the frequency of procreation in all the stories but still, if you keep your practical and logical thinking at bay, you will definitely enjoy this book.
Best wishes to the author!
Buying link: Amazon