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Punjab- the lush fields, the warm hearts, the struggle and the faith, all come alive in Kanika Dhillon’s latest novel The Dance of Durga.
Rajjo, born under a prophetic star, should have been called Durga- that is what her senile grandmother had wanted. In times when the birth of a third daughter was seen as ill-fated, Biji had danced her last dance in the rain.“………..Durga, her name is Durga and she will rule the world, you see. She is destined for greatness! She is God’s child! The world will know her! You all will know I was right!….. You have to promise me you will name her Durga! and not Rajjo!…..”
A blessed child, Rajjo knew her life would change. But the change that comes, makes her denounce God and take fate in her own hands. The abused Rajjo dreams of becoming a god woman and thus starts her journey, pervaded with manipulation, jealousy, deceit and love. Rajjo’s success in commercialising God and her unrequited love, lead her up a treacherous path, where she has deleterious choices to make. With millions following her, but only a handful of confidantes, the mesmerisingly beautiful Rajjo, trudges ahead to carve a new destiny for herself.
Forget Nancy Pearl’s Rule of Fifty, because The Dance of Durga connects immediately. Kanika’s eloquent writing and skilful dialogues deftly take the reader into Rajjo’s myriad world. Though Rajjo is the protagonist, her sisters Reet and Rano, the besotted Karam, her God-fearing mother, her abusers, her true love Harsh and her altruists from the ashram, play a pivotal role in chalking out Rajjo’s story. The painstakingly portrayed characters leave a deep impact on the reader. The narrative flows smoothly, weaving intrigue, sadness and hope into the plot. While the setting in rural Punjab brings out the blind faith in so-called agents of God, the main theme of the novel is a woman’s resilience and her steadfast determination to pave a way for herself.
A well written book!!!