Fulfilling Sivakami’s Oath

Review of Sivakamiyim Sabatham Volumes 3 and 4; English translation by Nandini Vijayaraghavan; Pothi 2012; pp 249

– Shana Susan Ninan

Much of the action in the third volume of this literature is centred on the life after the siege of the Kanchi Fort. Naganandi Adigal, the Buddhist bikshu and secret admirer of Sivakami gets prominence as her savior. Once the young prince, Mamallan and his chief aide Paranjyothi set out to seek revenge on Pulikesi, there’s no turning back. But in a clash of events, Pulikesi and his Vatapi army take Sivakami hostage and Aayanar’s leg is maimed in the process. The father and daughter are separated, and she’s ‘imprisoned’ in the Vatapi Palace. Although she refuses to dance at the request of Pulikesi, she’s forced to dance at street corners in order to spare prisoners from Kanchi from being beaten up.

The fourth and last volume is a somber one – marked by the destruction of the city of Vatapi and Sivakami’s realisation about Mamallar’s queen consort and children. Earlier, before he breathed his last, Mahendra Pallavar secured the permission of the Ministers’ Council to wage war against Vatapi and to get Sivakami back to Kanchi. He also emotionally blackmails his son Mamallar to agree to a wedding he wasn’t dreaming of.

The emotions portrayed in the book vary from jealousy and pride to anger and haste. And it’s explained and characterised in a befitting manner. Egotistic Sivakami is a tad bit late to understand that her oath of leaving the Vatapi city only after Mamallar raises to the ground and seeks her hand makes things hard for all, especially the citizens. Mamallar and Paranjyothi once visit Vatapi in disguise and ask Sivakami to join them, but she refuses saying she would leave the city only after the oath’s fulfilled. What happens then is a war of emotions and feelings. Sivakami with her stubbornness and Mamallar with his pride. Suffice to say that it took 10 years to prepare for her release. And in between, Naganandi has his own plans – for himself and for his brother Pulikesi’s kingdom.

Nandini’s translation is poetic and precise, lending a lyrical voice to the narration. My only bone of contention is the clamping together of dialogues into paragraphs, without clear demarcation between the speakers. The ending is poignant. Sivakami is released. Mamallar wins the war. Paranjyothi is the head of a victorious army. But are the three of them satisfied with how life has turned out?

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This entry was posted on Sunday, June 15th, 2014 at 10:11 am and is filed under Literature, Reviews, Translation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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