The Liberation Of Sita
The Liberation of Sita is by far the most powerful and thought provoking books on Sita. Written by Volga, the short stories would bombard you with thoughts which you have never imagined. It will broaden your horizon of thinking about feminism and womanhood.
Sita rejects Ram’s offer to return home on the condition to prove her purity again. Always a dutiful and obedient wife, Sita defies Ram’s request openly and choose her own path, to live her life her way. This was a courageous move. From where Sita got this courage. It cannot be the sudden change. There has to be a chain of events, introspection and reflection to bring such a coherence and reasoning and above all such a defiance.
Volga in search of this answer revisits mythology and reimagines few episodes of Sita’s life which played a crucial role in this transformation both as an individual and as a woman.
Ocean in the Pot
The book is a collection of four short stories written from Sita’s perspective and one visualizing Ram’s turmoil of heart.
Reading these short stories I realized the author Volga has said so much in few words which even hundreds of pages of epic fail to convey. The Liberation of Sita is not just about Sita and her trajectory, but also about those women who were conveniently ignored and forgotten by the writer of the epic and punished and wronged by men specially by the husbands.
Journey Towards Self Realization
In the course of her journey, Sita meets Ahalya, Renuka, Surpanakha and her sister Urmila. Each one of them imparts important life lessons to her. She was not able to grasp the essence immediately, but bitter experience of life taught her the real meaning behind those messages. This ultimately helped her to break free from the external authority of society and of Ram and to live her life on her own terms.
From Surpanakha she learns to seek joy and fulfillment in nature, who always loves back with no conditions attached.
Renuka taught her not to make husband and sons the only source of happiness. This helps Sita to find new meaning of life after handing over her sons to Rama.
Ahlaya possessed the most radical voice. A voice which would stir and strike at the core. She advised Sita never to give man the power to test your chastity. It is shattering to be held guilty until you prove your innocence.
Urmila gives the powerful lesson to weigh your feelings and let go who inflicts more pain than joy.
Feminism And Sisterhood
The book celebrates sisterhood and feminism like I have never read before. Ahalya, Renuka, Urmila and Surpanakha - they all suffered. But they didn’t want Sita to suffer. They all came forward whenever Sita’s feet trembled and showed her the way.
Volga has depicted her female characters as strong willed, independent, self sustaining and mind of their own. They all burnt their fingers, but not any more. They don’t let rules created and imposed by men to rule them. Ahalya, Renuka, Urmila and Surpanakha defied the norms of the society who took the liberty to clip their wings and shatter their self respect. They all walk on the path chosen by them and not by others which took them to self realization and liberation.
I was never happy with the way the Ramayana ends. Sita being the epitome of womanhood and feminism, courage and endurance, kindness and firmness choose to end her life in the original story. Hats off to Volga she presented the same climax in a different way which was more deserving. It provided my restless and ruffled soul some peace.
‘The Shackled’, the last short story in the collection, shows Ram repenting and remorsing at his own condition. He had raised his barometer of conduct, of right and wrong, of law and righteousness, so high that together they tied a noose around his throat, suffocating him to live every day in misery. Volga has shown Ram as someone who always think what people would say.
The stories have been written in conversational style. Volga didn’t bother to build up scenes and scenarios, characterization or description. She just came straight to the point. It is a very unconventional style of writing. You might find yourself lost. But don’t give up. Read it and reread it. It is completely worth.
All the five stories are independent from each other. Complete in itself yet interlinked as they all are serving one purpose, to prepare Sita for future misfortune and live through it.
Also, if you know Telugu language, then it would be great to read the book in its original version. As the translated one has lost some essence. You will find some Telugu words for addressing characters like Akka for elder sister, Amma for mother. This, I think, provided these stories an independent identity from the original epic. Even I will advise you to read these stories completely detached from the original one. This would enable you to grasp and absorb the understanding of feminism in the stories.
Volga through these stories raised the question mark on the righteousness and morality which men of the epic brag about. Injustice against women had been brushed aside as an insignificant minor casualties which doesn’t even count. As though, women don’t have their independent identity beyond their husbands and sons.
The Liberation of Sita is a must read. All the female characters penned by Volga were feminist in the truest sense. Her female characters might appear radical and revolutionary and far forward in their thinking, but it is the most progressive feminism where women just wished to look upon like any other human being, recognising their needs, self respect and individuality. Men just can’t lay down rules for women and impose them as per their convenience.
About The Author
Volga is a noted communist activist and Telugu writer. Soon she was fed up with the patriarchal ways of communist and instead focused on writing. Her main theme always been feminism. Her noted publications include Svechcha, Rajakeeya Kathalu, Neeli Meghalu, Charitra Swaralu, and Maaku Godalu Levu.