Ahalya: The Retold Narrative of the Cursed Metamorphosis of an Unblemished Innocence

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Dr. Debalina Sengupta


Any piece of creative art; be it literature, poetry or painting assiduously eulogises the eternal subject position of the powerful males; whereas females remain at the backdrop as vague shadows or as the balancing consorts for flourishing lustre. Myths or epics are no exceptions to this prevalent trend. Women, too seem to have accepted this long patronisation without much debilitating contort. But the Postmodern narration of the old myths questions the very base of this uneven weaving and it also endeavours to recreate old stories into new mould. Kavita Kane, a renowned journalist and creative artist, has deliberately utilised those muted shadows from our magnificent epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata; and tried to narrate them with their personal account of unrequited passion and socio-political exploitation of unfathomable sufferings. Ahalya’s Awakening is the hapless story of the princess of Kampilya, whose zeal for education, scholasticism and perseverance for being a ‘rishika’ rather than a mere sexual partner of her husband, Rishi Goutam, shocks everyone with her defiant rumination and intellectual succour. Yet, she was turned into stone for Indra’s carnal seduction in the disguise of her husband. Her own story remained unheard, unsung and unreciprocated. She was back to the living form with the miraculous touches of King Rama; and renounces her husband for his undue curse. This novel, innovatively questions at the root of the patriarchal dynamics and interrogates into the principles of ‘Nyay’(Justice) and ‘Dharma’ (Righteousness) according to parochial male supremacy. My endeavour in this paper, therefore, is to find justification in Ahalya’s narrative and to reflect on her enigmatic mortification with palpable care and excruciating diligence.

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