Thursday, 10 October 2013

Vayuputra review and fanfiction: Difficulties in letting go and moving on

Neelkanth visualised by Amish et al (I have to say that those lips are adorable...)

I have difficulties in letting go, at times. Or moving on, at times. One of the recent examples is Amish’ The Oath of the Vayuputra. Case in the point: I received the book from my dear friend in India in late April, finish it in three days (non-continuous reading due to my schedule), and yet have never been able to sit down and write the review. Until now. Because I am still in denial (yes, it’s not only a river in Egypt… which I will mention again at the end of this review).

Several things made it difficult for me to let go. The ending, for one – and I’m sure I’m not alone in this matter. I read online that a girl still hadn’t been able to let go after two weeks of finishing Vayuputra. Well, I’m into six months after finishing it, and I still cannot let go. There are some nitpicks of course, which made me wish that Amish had somewhat wrote the book rather differently. But the most important thing is the ending. 

So, to make it shorter-ish, I will divide the review into what I love, what I like, and what I dislike (and I wish I could change). Heavy spoilers for those who haven’t read the book yet. 

What I love

The love between Shiva and Sati is easily the first thing I love about Vayuputra. Actually, the burning love between Shiva and Sati was the first thing that made me attracted to the Shiva Trilogy series, on par with Amish’ depictions of Shiva and Sati themselves as individuals. In the Secret of the Nagas, Amish didn’t really put emphasize on the love between the adorable couple. He understandably focused more on the relationship (or the lack thereof) between Shiva and Ganesh, and a bit of romance between Anandmayi (my 2nd favourite female character here, on par with Kali) and Parwateshvar. But in Vayuputra, Amish went top speed on Shiva-Sati love. And after finished reading it, I understand that he did it for a ‘good’ reason, which basically is the thing that I dislike in this book (See below).

I also love the growing trust between Shiva and Ganesh. I actually think the father and son scenes can be added more (by reducing the war scenes, for instance). Ganesh is my favourite deity, and Amish showed beautifully in Vayuputra why he is an adorable character. 

Lady Sati visualised, by Amish et al., played by Sapna Sehravat

What I like

Kali is a character that I love in the Trilogy. But what I like in this last installment is the way she ‘mellowed’ down to be a bit flirty over the years, particularly after the event that led to the ending (again, see below). I’m not saying that she used the ‘event’ to be flirty, God no! Kali was as sorry as Ganesh and Kartik (and perhaps almost as sorry as Shiva) about the ‘event’. But somehow, after the business is done, Kali found a way to let go of her bitterness, and became a more relaxed character. The way she conversed with Shiva at the last pages of the story showed me how Sati’s twin has matured as time goes by.

I like the early twist of the story when Amish introduced to us the Real Evil of the Trilogy. Yep, it was the Somra, the life-saving elixir that had brought Meluha to its civilization height. However, I do wonder. Is Somra really the evil, or the way we use the Somra is the evil? To me, Somra isn’t the evil. Somra is just a tool. The way we use it is the devil we should fight against. Still, it wasn’t a big nitpick, so I still put this aspect as ‘like’.

I like how Amish explained just in one sentence that the other name of Devagiri (Meluha’s capital) was Tripura (owing to the three layers of platforms the city was built on). If one follows the legend of Shiva, one would have known or heard about Tripura. Tripura was the name of three cities in the sky that had grown so evil that the Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) decided they couldn’t let the cities exist anymore. As the story goes, Shiva (ever the Archer) would be charged with the task of blasting the three cities with his super-powered arrow (which was Vishnu himself, actually) with Brahma as his chariot rider. However, Shiva could only use the arrow once, so he had to calculate the exact time the three cities were at the same line (more or less) from his vantage point on Earth. The mission was accomplished perfectly, of course, and we are often thus treated with lovely images of Shiva sitting in serenity, waiting for the right time to strike his arrow, with Parvati next to him. So, having Devagiri also named as Tripura befit the story, IMO. 

Shiva (as Tripurantaka) shooting the arrow (Vishnu) at Tripura, by Tarun Kumar

What I dislike (and I wish I could change)




Now, finally we arrived at the ranting and whining part. First of all: why the heck must Amish kill Sati??? I mean, what was the point, other than making us fans utterly broken hearted, shattered asunder as we watched Shiva crumbled into a sobbing creature of helplessness? Seriously, I actually wailed when I read that part. I wailed so much that the next day I looked like someone who had just broken up with her boyfriend or something. Honestly!

And to have Sati killed in such a way? Surely heroic, to die the way Sati did, but was it really necessary??? And for what? So that Shiva had the ‘legitimate’ reason to blast Tripura into pieces with his fusion Daivi Astra weapon?

Shiva mourning Sati by Deviant Artist Yang Yi
I have to say she depicted my sorrow perfectly...

Seriously, if I am only allowed to complain about one aspect of Vayuputra, this is what I complain about. Why the heck must you kill Sati, Amish? Don’t you know how many fans are rooting over Shiva and Sati? That we are so pleased to finally have a tangible means to connect with the Divine Love between the two Celestial Couple, such that we can feel their human emotions too? I have been in love with Shiva and Sati/Uma/Parvati since… 2003 perhaps, when my best friend in Bali took me to a pooja shop here and showed me a small acrylic picture of Shiva and Parvati. The way Shiva was looking at Parvati adoringly just told me how much I want to have a man looking at me like that. Adoringly, full of love. I wanted that love. I still want that love. I love the Shiva-Parvati love because I can relate to that love. That love is human enough for me to understand, but also spiritual enough for me to realize that we human can also expand our human love to include spirituality. And that’s why the Shiva Trilogy and Shiva-Sati love matter a lot to me. Because it reminds me of the spiritual plane human can achieve, and how possible it actually is to be spiritual and jovial at the same time when we are living in this human plane of existence. 

And you, my dear, respectful Amish, have shattered that love asunder… as a pretext to obliterate Devagiri to pieces, connecting the dots  between the real findings of abandoned cities along the old Sarasvati River with the Trilogy story. Why? Can’t Shiva blast Devagiri into pieces without having Sati murdered first? He can. And he could, given the chance. 

You just didn’t give him the fair chance to do that. You didn’t give any of us the fair chance to do that.

Lord Shiva visualised, by Amish et al., played by Gashmeer Mahajani

Amish should have re-written the whole last chapters anew. Seriously. Or if Karan Johar eventually made this Trilogy into a movie trilogy (as the wind has whispered so far), he should negotiate the daringly different ending to the one on the book. Why not? Some book purists might not like it, but some mythological fans like me will root for an ending with Sati alive and she lived happily ever after with Shiva.

For I am, as I have realized again last night, always have been a Shiva girl, and I want my Shiva to be happy. I want my Shiva to be reunited with his Sati. I cannot stand re-reading the last chapter when the jovial Shiva turned into the somber looking Shiva. That cannot do. Yes, of course it ties nicely into the somber looking Shiva sometimes depicted in statues… (though there are versions of him smiling serenely as well), but I miss the jovial, laughing Shiva. I miss him. With all my heart.

I miss Lady Sati, too.

Of course there is a more relaxed Kali at the end of the book. I always love Kali, and I like it how Amish wrote her as getting more gentle but still with her own personalities. Did anyone also notice how she was eventually elegantly rooting for Shiva? Of course she wouldn’t take Shiva from Sati, deceased as her sister was, but she definitely was in love with Shiva. And who can blame her? And who can blame Shiva for only regarding his sister in law as a sister in law, instead of the replacement of Sati?  

I am not satisfied with the ending. To date. One semester flows by after I finished reading it, and yet I still want another ending. An ending when Shiva is happy with Sati and their family. And if we cannot change it because it’s too much to change her death, just do this as a favour for me and other Shiva-Sati fans, dear Amish:

Write another chapter that changes the last few pages. Starting from Shiva throwing pebbles at Lake Mansarovar. Then as the pebble hit only once with a sad flop, Shiva said in his heart the one heart-piercing sentence,

I miss you.

[Then, this is where I propose the changes – hence my first Shiva Trilogy fanfiction:] 

He felt wind blowing from the west. He involuntarily turned to see fogs suddenly formed around him. From the thick dense fog, he saw a figure, so vague at the first time, and yet it got clearer and clearer by the minute. The figure was coming to him. He knew who it was before the fog cleared up. He always knew. It was Sati. It was his imagination of Sati. He knew it, and he wish he never cared, for it never became reality. Sati was mercilessly killed years ago, and he has been longing for her for ages. 

The Neelkanth eventually blinked. The figure would disappear by then, as it usually did. It did not. Shiva blinked again. Sati was still there. Smiling at him. Tantalizing him? He was going to open his mouth, telling the apparition to go away, when she spoke up first.
“I miss you too. My love, I have always been missing you too.”

Shiva stared at her. It was her voice. Her real voice. Of all the apparitions of Sati he had seen so far, they never spoke. Or, in the rare events that they did, they were just whispers. “You lied. You left me behind. You never missed me.” 

“Oh, but I do.” Sati smiled sadly, and walked another step closer. “And I want to see you. I want to be with you.”

Shiva felt his throat dry. “You cannot. Unless I die and join you. In which I am glad to.” He stopped for a heartbeat before adding, hope rising in his troubled heart, “Are you going to take me with you now? Because I am more than happy to go with you.” 

“You don’t have to, Shiva,” Sati reached for his cold hand. Shiva trembled. The touch was cold and yet warm at the same time. “You won’t need to.”

Shiva blinked back the treacherous tears that threatened to fall. “Go away. Don’t hurt me anymore. I can take it no more.” 

“But Shiva, you’re not listening. Do you want to see me or not?”

“Yes, I do!” this time, Shiva yelled. “Of course I do! But I have learned to let go. I have to. Now just let me go! You are not real, you are not my Sati!”

“But what if I am your Sati?!” Sati’s apparition looked a bit irked. “What if I am reborn into the body of another woman, face so similar to my own, who had been dead for only moments before I entered her body? And what if I am now actually trying to contact you through a local wise sage, as I actually AM doing now, desperately trying to tell you this?!”

Shiva stared at her silently. What a joke.

“And what if my time for this connection is up soon, and this is the only time I can convey this message to you?” Sati exhaled her frustration. “Will you not listen now?!”

Shiva’s head was suddenly pounding like crazy, his heart was beating like a mad damaru on stage. “Go on…” he whispered.

“Go to the High Land of the Nile, Shiva. Ask our sons and my sister what they had been doing there a few years ago. Tell them you need to go to the place where they obliterated the Aten cult who belonged to a man who murdered me. The man who turned out to be so impressed with me, he actually established a shrine for me, worshipped me repeatedly, and even contacted a local magician to bring me back to life.”

This sounds too good to be true. Shiva’s logic eventually spoke again. “Forgive me Sati, but this sounds a bit crazy.”

“But part of you want it to be true,” Sati smiled. Her figure started to shimmer, as if going to evaporate. “Part of you do want to go to the High Land of the Nile to find me.”

Shiva studied the apparition of his wife. The shimmer was more pronounced now, almost glowing. He eventually realized this may be his one and only chance to be happy again.

“I do,” he nodded slowly, then vigorously, as his wife started to glow instead of shimmer. “I actually do. But how can I find you there?”

“Just find me in the mountains.” Sati’s shimmer was overtaken by a glow now, denser by the second, which seemed to swallow her voice too. “Take Ganesh, Kartik and Kali with you. They do not know this yet, but they actually know how to find me.”

“But, what about your name? What is this lady’s name? How do I know?”

“I cannot tell you, Shiva,” Sati’s voice was vaguely heard behind her glow. “It is a promise I made to the sage so that he connected me to you. Strange as it is, you have to trust our love to find me.” Her glow completely overtook her now. “And you will, my love. You will.”

Shiva wanted to protest, but deep inside, he knew his wife was right. His wife was always right. The High Land of the Nile. Is it worth it? Do I really need to go there? Staring at the spot where his wife was, he debated this thought for a few moments.

He heard steps behind him that made him turn around. Ganesh, his ears flopping and belly starting to protrude, approached him with a smile. Behind him were Kali, Kartik and Nandi.

“Baba…” Ganesh spoke up. “It’s the feast of the Night of the Mahadev. And the Mahadev needs to be a part of the celebration instead of brooding next to the lake.”

“And you should smile this time, Baba,” said Kartik. “It will make us happy.”

Shiva gazed at his loving family for a moment; his lips slowly formed a smile. “I will, when the three of you will reveal your secret…”


Thoughts of my alternative ending...?


debby sutopo said...

Beautiful review...and it describe what I feel too...(˘̩̩̩.˘̩ƪ) I want a happy ending... Sati..(˘̩̩̩.˘̩ƪ)...

Icha said...

Thanks so much Bebe! Yeah, I really want Amish to have a different ending for Shiva and Sati. Still hard to swallow, let alone let go, to date...

dhaval desai said...

Exceptional fan-fiction. Hats off Icha ... U have made an opening for the scope of probable 4th book of the series. Yes i do like your approach but to say about amish's thought .. i think he wrote whole story with the help of his researches and he tried to be as close as possible with facts. So, no regrets in what he has written. On the other side i really like your fan-fiction .. i believe you are a writer and if not believe me you will definitely make a good one !!

Icha said...

Dhaval, thanks a lot for the comment! I used to be a fanfiction writer till got side-tracked. I have been fighting the urge to write short Shiva Trilogy fanfic, cos I just simply have other things to do. But Shiva and Sati are swarming my head, begging to be written (yes, they CAN be very demanding...). So, I don't know... I hope soon I can post short ST fanfics here.

On your thoughts re: Amish' ending, it's good that you have no regrets. I wish I could do so too. I'm just so rooted over Shiva-Sati that I cannot take the ending. I know in the puranas, Sati died too. But then she was reborn as Parvati. But in this book, it's difficult to twist that story, cos Shiva was shown to die without Sati returning :-(

Anonymous said...

how about this:
sati and shiva have karthik but also a daughter; ganga, karthik's twin
and it's ganga who dies not sati, she dies for her mother fighting along with her
and shiva destroys devagiri for ganga. to avenge his destroy her killer ; somras
and sati doesn't stop shiva from killing her own land because it was devagiri which killed sati's child, her daughter, her ganga (though she tries to convince her mother and parvateshvar ....)

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. Thanks so much for giving me a ray of hope. I loved Shiva trilogy and everything Mr. Amish wrote but I was so shattered when lady sati died.😥
Thank you so much again for writing this beautiful chapter m so happy now.
May God bless you 😘

Icha said...

Hi Anon and Unknown...

Thanks for the comments. I like the addition of Ganga as Sati and Shiva's daughter...

And yes I do need to let go, but I haven't. Not even until today. I'm such a loser in letting go... Hence I don't know if I will ever read the Indonesian translation of Book Three (the translation has been very good so far, but Book 3 is too painful to revisit).

Bless you all, anyway....