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PIO author: My female characters are feisty, flawed


The desire to write about women came early for Indian-American author Chitra B Divakaruni who was curious as to why so little was said about the women characters in mythological tales like Mahabharat and Ramayan. “The stories my grandfather used to tell me had so much about the valour, warcraft, and statecraft of men. Even descriptions of weapons were given more space than women,” she said. The fascination for women who inhabited the sidelines finally led her to write.

Banerjee whose books, Palace of Illusions and Forest of Enchantments among others, retell Hindu mythology from a feminist point of view, was speaking at the Times LitFest 2021 to fellow author Anuja Chandramouli about her love for strong women characters. But the women she portrays are not without their flaws. “This burden of perfection is put on women by patriarchy,” she said, adding her characters are feisty and flawed.

Her new book ‘The Last Queen’ traces the rags-to-riches story of Rani Jindan, the youngest and last queen of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Jindan Kaur was the daughter of the royal kennel keeper with a difficult childhood who rose to become a legendary warrior queen and has been described as the “mother of Khalsa.”

The book highlights the complex geopolitics of the time, and the severe infighting between different kingdoms and the British. She said the lessons learnt at that time were true even today. “If even one or two kingdoms had joined hands, the British would not have been able to succeed as much as they did. It is true even today. Countries have to come together or they weaken themselves,” she said.

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