Ramayana The Game Of Life : Shattered Dreams - Book Review

Why 14 years? Not 10, not 15, but why specific figure of 14 years of exile Rama has to go for? Have you ever thought about it? Here, you will have the answer. Moreover, the questions that are almost unanswered, like how the city of Ayodhya reflected the parting of their beloved Rama? Was Kaikeyi really an evil queen from the start? Why Manthra played the role of a traitor? All this and more, I found in this second installment of Game Of Life series written by Shubha Vilas. Shattered Dreams - the second part of the Ramayana series tells the story starting from the announcement of coronation to the initial days of the 14 year old exile in the forest.
Taking help of Valmiki Ramayan and the other versions of this great epic, Shubha  takes you to that era when most virtuous King once ruled the world. The King, Rama. It is indeed an interesting take on Ramayana to make it accessible to younger generation with occasionally sprinkled wisdom in the footnotes. Even in review of the first book I had noted this. That not just some interesting trivia, but words of wise men are there making your reading more immersive.
Rarely I have read any editions of Ramayana that goes so much into details about the other characters as well, other than Rama and Sita. Here, they have a less exposure compared to other character. Even the later one, Sita, has hardly any notable sequence. On the other hand, here we have detailing about each small person who played key roles at various stages. Be it the evil hunchbacked Manthra, or the ever beautiful queen Kaikeyi. Even the charioteer Sumantra is given so detailed attention, the presence of them hardly go unnoticed.
One beautiful aspect of the writing of the book is how the author has used the expletives. Be it describing inimitable beauty of Rama, or the occasional glances of Rama and Sita. Or the description of beautiful creations of nature. The rivers and the forests. Everything is depicted so beautifully that it comes alive in front of us. Leave only the goody goody things. But the remorse of the brothers, grief of the parents and moans of the citizens of Ayodhya - on losing their beloved sun prince Rama, does let you go with the flow. Only to make you wonder how great a man must be to have such an inimitable image in people's hearts. Another thing I loved about how the characters of Lakshmana and Bharata are developed. Both, bound by their unwritten duty to elder brother. Both taking vows just because their brother is facing hardships.
And not just Rama, but the opening chapters also takes you on the journey to the past. The past when the Ikshvaku dynasty had a King named Nemi, who later on named Dashratha. How a person got transformed from Dasagriva to Ravana. How Ravana got encounter with the god of death - Yama himself. A collage of absolutely interesting backstories gets you hooked. And despite the fact the stories we already know, there is always something new to know about.
So isn't there anything that I disliked? Well, there is. But a personal choice of course. That at places the learnings go in much detailed mode. At places it hinders flow of the story. But still gives out very important lessons. Be it the Mission tests, the virtues, the anarthas, true communication and more. Words that makes you go think, ponder about the things around.
And that's what a book should do, right? Shattered Dreams does exactly that. And full marks to the author Shubha Vilas for taking the age old epic to this new level. Thank you for bringing those stories alive again which were there somewhere in granny's love, in age old books in our cupboards, in Amar Chitra Katha books.

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