When I first took “The Palace of Illusions” into my hands, it was love at first sight. And when I began to read it, to truly get lost in the story, I knew that I had indeed found the love of my life – the way we think, in our heady excitement, when we fall in love for the first time.
Eight years later, I still cannot pass it by without picking it up, looking through it with a happy sigh, and perhaps going through a few lines, even chapters. I’ve decided many a time to do a re-read and still found myself as enriched and elated as I was when I first finished it.
I truly hope I love someone the way I love this book – or that someone loves me that way I love this book.
Somehow, it teaches me something new every time I read it and leaves me not with the sort of exuberance that dies down within seconds, but with a calm sense of meaning that stretches on like an ocean of great depth.
How is it that I never wrote a review for this book?
I don’t know either. I suppose I never found the right words.
I could say that it gave a different perspective of one of the greatest stories told in my country – the Mahabharata. I could say that it traces the life of a fiery female protagonist – Panchaali, the woman with the unique distinction of having five husbands. Or perhaps I could say that it deals with politics, with human emotion, with hopes and dreams.
But all of that could never quite communicate the blissful peace I used to feel just by reading a page of that book – especially if that page dealt with the friendship between Panchaali and Krishna.
Which is why for my second amateur attempt at drawing, I thought of bringing to life – in my own capacity – that stirring emotion I often felt when I read of a love that wasn’t love in it’s widely understood sense. It was the love that had no labels – not of a parent, not of a husband, not a brother.
This love is the one that – as I understand it – moved Rumi in his search for the divine.
“Love is the soul’s light.”
And as I built upon that feeling, I hoped it would reflect in my final expression of it. If not the full measure of it, then at least a shadow.
The drawing shows Panchaali – quietly reflective in this world of dreamy realities, with Krishna – ever-present, but not smothering in his affections.
Through this, I wanted to show the relationship between our mortal souls and what we call divine – usually demarcating them along lines of virtue, faith or rigidity when in fact, they are both integral to each other.
All that we call mortal is but a joyous expression of the divine, and in everything that lives, there is an essence of divinity that never dies.
Here is to love, to learning, and to living in this Palace of Illusions until we find our way back Home.