Author – Kalki Krishnamurthy, translated by Nirupama Raghavan
Illustrations - N. Bindhu Malini
MRP – Rs. 165
Kalki Krishnamurthy's Parthiban Kanavu (Parthiban's Dream) is a fictionalised account of a period in Tamizh history dominated by four glorious kingdoms - the Cholas, the Pallavas, the Cheras and the Pandiyas.
When the king of the Cholas, Parthiban lies dying on the battlefield, he seeks the help of a Shivanadiyar (Shiva-worshipping ascetic) in ensuring that his dream of a vast and powerful Chola kingdom is realised by his son, Vikraman.
Years later, when Vikraman sets out to conquer the neighbouring Pallava kingdom, he is betrayed by his uncle, Marappa Bhupathi, and captured by Pallava troops. The Pallava princess, Kuntavi falls in love with him and tries to convince her father, the mighty Chakravarthi Narasimha Varman to be lenient in his sentence for the Chola prince. However, Vikraman is exiled to the Shenbaga Islands.
Two years later, when Vikraman returns to the mainland in disguise, he hears that his mother is missing. He endures a series of near-death experiences, and finally, is nursed back to health by Kuntavi. He finds his mother who tells him that the Shivanadiyar aided her escape from a group of Kapala Bhairavars (Kali-worshipping cult), but was himself captured. With the help of Ponnan, a Chola loyal, Vikraman reaches the Kapala Bhairavar hideout. After a daring rescue helped by Pallava allies, the intrigue surrounding the Shivanadiyar is revealed, thereby setting the stage for the realisation of Parthiban's dream.
Parthiban's Dream was translated from the Tamizh original by 15 year old Nirupama Raghavan. Although targeted at young adults, the story, with its vivid portrayal of Tamizh valour, is captivating to all.
An edited version appeared in Culturama's May 2011 Issue