Taking a Flight of Imagination into the Past
Indira Ananthakrishnan
UNHEARD VOICES FROM ANCIENT TIMES by Dipavali Sen Invincible Publishers, Gurugram, 2021, 294 pp., 349.00
May 2022, volume 46, No 5

I enjoyed reading the book Unheard Voices from Ancient Times. But would I enjoy reviewing the book, I wondered. To my delight, I found that I did! Beginning with the cover design, I looked at it from all angles. It set me thinking. I stared at the expanding, green spiral. Did it show the passage of time from the Jurassic Age to the Age of the Puranas? And the unheard voices of those times in deep brown could be seen vibrating through the spiral at varying velocities. I must say it is an effective design.

Coming to the stories, ten in all, the special effect is that the ancient tales are related to pandemic blues in an interestingly unusual way. Chintan and Ananya, a young couple, fed up with sitting at home all through the days of the deathly dance of corona virus hit upon the idea of spinning tales, not totally fictional or non-fictional, but giving a modern, creative touch to stories from our Puranas, Vedic times and Jurassic times. The protagonist in several instances puts forth her/his viewpoint vividly, differing from the original. We look at Ramayana through Mantara’s eyes or Mahabharata through those of Duryodhana. This unusual presentation makes the reader sit up and read the story at one go.

I have read Chitra Divakaruni’s portrayal of Draupadi’s viewpoint in Mahabharata or Kavita Kane’s depiction of that of Surpanaka in the Ramayana and others. Bringing the epic effect to arrest the attention of the reader in a short story calls for a special skill which the author possesses.

The viewpoint of Hidimbi of Mahabharata in the story ‘Sister, Wife, Mother Deity’ is an endearing one.

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