I just finished reading what turned out to be an extraordinary novel. It’s Dancing with Kali (Niyogi Books, Delhi, 2010) written by the erudite architect, Lalita Das. She sure had me fooled. Because it started off like one of those simple social novels that used to be published in the Diwali issues of Marathi magazines in the late forties and early fifties. What it gradually evolved into, though, was a cogent and lucid exposition of how the Indian patriarchal system works. No serious sociological tome could have explained the subject better. The chief protagonist is the matriarch of a North Goan Hindu joint family. Once she realises the nature of the beast and helplessly watches her only daughter being sacrificed on the altar of family honour, she concocts a rather fiendish plan to take over the reins of the family in order to bring up her granddaughter as a free bird. In my humble opinion, this novel deserves to be read widely instead of the trash that passes off as good reads. It is also my wish that a film director with social conscience makes a movie out of it. The story-telling is very visual and can easily be adapted for the silver screen. The novel also deals with a lot of Hindu beliefs like karma in a simple language. All in all, a remarkably rewarding read.
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