Harsimran kaur ON March 03, 2023, IN BOOK REVIEW, VICTORY CITY BY SALMAN RUSHDIE-FICTION
Salman Rushdie has sculpted a tale that confers human actions to be a consequence of temperaments and experiences. The coronary of being relevant and futile at the same time is no irony—there is something we owe to ourselves and to the world, that’s the only difference. Ultimately, the action that produces fertile harvest is a preferable dominion by the onlookers.
And, then pontificates the harvester if labyrinth of such actions can deepen the silhouette of his power to take control of the unprecedented frissons of destiny. The desirable happens but actions forget what inspired them; the reason too becomes silent spectator, finally en trouping human behaviour as ‘peccadillos’ or a ‘strategic value system’. Look back—the reason is as eminent as the action confabulated by words spoken; a dismissal symphony played in the background to loop the beginning and the end.
The ‘Victory City’ by Salman Rushdie is a palliative panjandrum of words that not only create an empire but govern every action that sees its glory and destruction.
Seeds, from which an action sprouts; an action of growth and expansion is a pullulative power from which grows the city of ‘Bisnaga’ – the Victory City—an entrapped wonderland where marionette muses proffer the instinctive whisper to create a past and present that dances to madrigal roguish.
Pampa Kampana, the head matriarch of her creation, yields an inscrutable power bestowed by the goddess who speaks from her mouth. Undeterred to create an empire on the land where a mass conflagration consumed her mother, Pampa through the magical seeds creates a heaven of towers and pillars that swear to obliterate the barricaded identity of sexual genesis. She dabs humility not to create a garden of errors but grow a magnolia where indigenous prosperity reflects on acting in a way to soil and plough the corrigendum.
The piquant Rushdie is elaborate in its magical panoply of ‘women warriors’, ‘Kings and their irredentist splurges’, ‘the curated curves under the munificent mountains’ and the erotic calisthenics purging as a blasphemy’. The reality of life finally begins to flow as whispers from Pampa Kampana’s mouth umbilically rope in the ears of men and women, giving them reason for their fortuitous belonging. Thus, the precipitous cavalcade of kings and the progeny make ‘Bisnaga’ a city esteemed to be a simulacrum of a magical land where shrubs shoot but as time passes the shrubs with their dishevelled charm fall off otherwise it would be an aberration to defy nature.
Voluminous in its creativity and objectivity, ‘Victory City’ is Rushdie’s mesmerizing story of a woman—Pampa Kampana—and the burden of her childhood memory envisaging her to rule by words and actions, for she is granted a boon to live for 250 years.
Rulers come and go; the lineage a smorgasbord of puritanical ideologies or adventurous religious paragons, both intimate to one’s actions and desirable consequences. Pampa, the emboldened queen thrice sees all and consumes every perfidy, pejoratives and pell-mell, to be further chronicled as ‘jayaparajaya’ which is also a witness to ostentatious victories and pugnacious wind-setters.
Seems like a hog-wash, the story has passerine deployment to look out for fault lines in the empire and above all the cavalcade of ‘white and pink monkeys’ engaging in skirmishes in the ‘wonder forest’—a viable interlude in the saga of the queen’s exile. Every moment in the book reflects the tendency of human nature to be good and evil at the same time. The nuance to behave incorrectly is an aftermath of a neglect or inexperience, to then be awarded with foliage of ‘words’ changing the spectrum of thinking for a conceivable action.
‘Victory City’ has it all—the dogmas of the shibboleths, the deuce of the ‘remonstrance’ and how ill equipped human actions can be to raise a staccato of divergence when need be. In the midst of all this, Pampa Kampana holds the guard to make ‘Bisnaga’ a flourishing city where women are decreed to be their own masters, equal to men. Venomed with challenges and adorned with pleasurable retreats, ‘Victory City’ is a mesmerizing saga of a woman and her parthenogenesis of words.