“Mandala” is a novel written by Pearl S.Buck, whose name I think needs not much of an introduction. Thinking of it now, it evokes some laughter from my side, but I shamelessly accept that I began reading it around 8 months back 🙂 It took me this long to complete it. Not that its boring. Its just happened.
Mandala is the story of kings, lost kingdoms, love affairs and a web of relationships. Prince Jagat, Princess Moti, Jai and Veera – form a family. Jagat meets an American lady miss Westley and their friendship blossoms. These is this church Father who is sort of spiritual advisor to Moti. Veera is engaged with Raj, whom she does not love. Jai goes in to army despite protests from family members. There is faithful servant of Jagat – Rodriguez, who can’t tolerate any aberration in the prestige of that princely family. There is Mr Osgood, who is incharge of the process of converting a part of Jagat’s palace in to hotel, to attract foreign tourists and generate revenue. The story proceeds normally until Jai dies in the war. Moti refuses to believe in his death and Jagat goes in search of his son’s remains and to know more about his son from people around there. Ms Westley joins him on this pursuit. Love starts between them. Parellelly Moti expresses love for the Father which he plainly refuses. Veera loves Osgood. In this web of love affairs and culture clashes, theres again a story of possibility of reincarnation of Jai. All these form a part of this 350page novel.
The story in itself is full of so many turns that it can keep you curious about “what will happen next?” till the end. The style is good enough. Simple, yet attractive. The characterisations of different people are so perfectly made that you can actually see the story unfolding in front of your eyes. I saw Jagat’s palace in front of my bed 🙂 I even saw a lake in our bedroom 😉 A love for Indian way of living and a liking for Indian spiritual principles can be seen throughout the book. A book written by foreigner about India is so Indian! Well, perhaps, Pearl S.Buck cannot be considered a non-Indian in that sense!
When I read it and broke the flow for the first time, I was not very keen on the book. I thought its just another boring book. But, I was compelled to read it soon after. After the second part, I took a long break. Somehow, I forgot about it. But, its in the third part that I really began appreciating the book. I realised how well written it was only in these past 2 days when I read the last part of the book. Perhaps, the good old laid back way of story telling (atleast in the initial stages) was responsible for my mixed feelings about the book. And yeah, it makes a perfect story to make a movie. I can already imagine the last scene. No wonder if it was already made in to a movie!
Final Verdict: Its this kind of book, which, once you are done with for the first time, can be picked up any time, turned to any page and be read just for the joy of reading. You can still see the characters in front of you. Who knows, you might feel nostalgic seeing them! 🙂
Rupa & Co Publishers