Sunaina Luthra On  Mar 13, 2024, In Book Review, Swallowing the Sun by Lakshmi Murdeshwar Puri– Fiction

Rating: 4/5

Their aim was to swallow the sun, achieving boundless knowledge and exploring the mysteries of life. Meet Malati and Kamala, young and feisty Marathi girls residing in a tranquil village of Ratnagiri, possessing an insatiable hunger for education. They broke the cliché; exuberating radiance of empowerment, resilience, and courage in an era when women cloaked themselves into an obsequious demeanor to confirm to the traditional gender roles.

The man to bend their consternation into a deep pit of unaccustomed profligacies is their father Madhav Rao – a visionary in Ratnagiri, tirelessly advocating women’s education and forging a path ahead of its time. He is still to realize that carving a bright future for his daughters was akin to traversing a thorny path.

The girls did what was proscriptive, firing a battle-axe to the encrypted societal norms, living with an unsettled consanguinity that made women flutter like frightened pigeons. Despite the overwhelming grief of losing his wife during child birth, Madhav Rao’s resolve to educate his daughters did not weaken and he propelled them onto a journey of self-discovery. They gradually became irrepressible and self-reliant women. The nurturing confines of Ahilya Ashram gave them wings to lead an exalting life at Elphinstone College in Bombay.

‘A cause need be found to live if the tyrannical pursuits of life become overwhelming’. They did for both Malati and Kamala. The childish pirouette of seeking life in its glory now found the feet grounded contemporaneous with the spirit of nationalism. The cause permeated their aspirations, instilling afervent desire to liberate India from the oppressive clutches of British rule. In the corrugated folds of ‘Independence’, an arpeggio of love is sung between Malati and her college mate Guru, united by their common goals.

As Malti and Kamala navigate this intricate tapestry of personal choices, the siblings find themselves entwined in a narrative where individual dreams intersect with nation’s struggle for independence; the dream of achieving the life they envisioned for themselves to be bedeviled by ineluctable trials.

‘Swallow the Sun’ by Lakshmi Murdeshwar Puri is beautiful powerful story of female empowerment. The characters in the book maneuver through various settings and bewildering situations; spy games orchestrated by revolutionaries, fascinating vignettes by legendary Annie Besant and Mahatma Gandhi, and historical events such as the Simon commission and the famous Kakori Conspiracy Case. Another interesting aspect of the book is its effort to bring across Marathi culture through poetry, music and theatre.


Kudos to Madhav Rao……

Every household needs a figurehead like Madhav Rao, embodying steadfast commitment to emancipate his daughters. Women of the house, residing in any part of the world only a need a gentle nudge to foster growth.

As rightly said, houses are happy and flourish only when parents prove to be fecund, nurturing development of their daughters and acting as the harbinger for immense opportunities for both personal and national growth.

While all this seems like a far -fetched dream indeed, but not impossible; if Madhav Rao could, so can you….

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