By Anuja Chandramouli
People are always curious to know why I have opted to write persistently in the genres of mythology and history, some going so far as to insinuate that it is most fuddy – duddy of me to do so, mistakenly assuming that it has neither the oomph factor nor the glam quotient. Those inclined towards calculation are convinced it is the financial aspect of writing about controversial topics in current times where people are working themselves into a tizzy over stories blasted out from the past that sets my creative registers ringing. Well-meaning readers are always trying to persuade me to give up on ancient, dusty tales and churn out a torrid contemporary romance or lurid pulp fiction convinced that it is the only way to get Hollywood head honchos to sit up, take notice (not Harvey Weinstein, thank you) and hand me the golden ticket to instant fame and fortune. As for me, all I can say is that I tend not to analyse the nitty gritty of my literary choices and it is somewhat scary how impulsive I am when it comes to these things. If pressed though, I would say that the real reason I do what I do is incurable wanderlust.
That is right. I am afflicted with a wicked case of wanderlust! I have always been consumed by an intensely strong desire to travel and see everything there is to see not just in the known Universe but whatever lies well beyond the ken of all things documented and experience things that nobody has before. Ever since I heard about them, I have been ridiculously resentful of the likes of Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Hiuen Tsang for obvious reasons and even every astronaut or cosmonaut who has been space hopping when it seems most unlikely that I will ever get the chance to do the same. However, if there is one thing to be learned from the objects of my envy, it is that there is no time like the present to pack up and go where the path leads without allowing yourself to become uncomfortably bound by circumstance. So I do just that, even if it is in my own head, and then before I know it, I am soaring on the wings of my thoughts to parts unknown, in search of adventure and in the thick of a treasure hunt for ancient truths in the shifting sands of time.
Thanks to the limitless capacity of a restless, insatiably curious mind, it is possible not only to take off wherever you wish to go but to inaccessible regions that are beyond the reach of the marvels of technology. Armed with little more than a few dusty tomes and a hyper imagination it is possible to dive deep into the past, tumbling pell-mell into the hidden caverns of history, floating like a sliver of a ghost into the shadowy, magic strewn realms of myth and legend, or gambolling aimlessly in the wildest outposts of pure fantasy with fairies and monsters. Every nook and cranny of this marvellously meandering journey is usually crammed with nuggets of all things intriguing, and it is always exciting! You never know what you will unearth, what or who you will run into or where you may land up even if you have mapped out the path with a specific destination in mind.
Having indulged in this mode of travelling often enough, I can confidently extol its many virtues, not the least of which is that you don’t have to put yourself through the tortures of crowded popular tourist spots where you get jostled while standing in interminable queues, heckled by obnoxious folks or be forced to endure fellow travellers in confined spaces where children howl and too many subject others to their flatulence and other gross bodily eructations. Thankfully there need be no narcissistic posing or incessant selfie-taking either. Why bother with capturing the moment when you are actually living it up in the moment and creating indelible memories to be ever treasured and shared with all who are willing to relive your travels through your words?
Writing in history and mythology is like clambering up Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree to explore the wondrous lands beyond. Thanks to my passion for my chosen subjects, I have held Arjuna’s hand as we explored the fabled, wondrous landscape of his life against the staggering backdrop of the Mahabharata; taken a rollicking ride into the very heart of desire and its tantalizing dark side with Kamadeva ; experienced the all-encompassing power of Shakti, the Divine Feminine; rooted about in the realms of death and damnation with Yama’s Lieutenant; unravelled the puzzle that is Kartikeya, the Destroyer’s loveable son; caught up with my childhood crush Prithviraj Chauhan, celebrated his triumphs and cried over his tragic losses; and watched in mute horror as Padmavati burned…
My work is something that has my unconditional love even when I am tempted to throw it all away with its attendant frustrations, solitary travails, rich rewards, pitiful returns and crushing insecurity. Still, when I am not feeling hopeless, I will remain ever grateful for the precious gifts that are words and stories, which has enabled me to transcend the limitations of a cruel world and go wherever the heart leads. And people wonder why I do what I do!
About the Author
Anuja Chandramouli is the bestselling author of Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince, with Kamadeva: The God of Desire, Shakti: The Divine Feminine and Yama’s Lieutenant. She is an accomplished storyteller who is regarded as a one of the well-known names in mythological fiction.