What happens when a 10-year-old who loves to read — and ask hard questions — meets a writer who is considered to have worked on the most definitive translation of Valmiki's Ramayana?
When Shayan met Arshia Sattar (the 'unsuspecting interviewee', whose latest book, 'Ramayana for Children' has been published by Juggernaut), he had all kinds of questions —
Why she wanted to retell the story of the Ramayana for children?
Why she'd spent 30 years of her life working on its text in some form or the other?
Who her favourite character from Valmiki's epic is? ("Hanuman," Arshia answered.)
Then, he got to the questions he really wanted answers to:
"Why didn't Ram and Lakshman teach Sita to fight so she could defend herself?"
"How was Ram lured away by Maricha (the demon-in-deer form)? As god, wouldn't Ram have known that the deer was really a demon?"
While Arshia struggles to find an answer to that question, Shayan offers up one of his own: "Maybe he loved Sita so much that he didn't stop to think?"
Arshia wonders then: "So are you saying it is more important to love someone than to be god?"
Shayan thinks for a while, then says, "I don't know".
Watch the video of Arshia and Shayan's interview here:
When Firstpost spoke with Arshia last week, she told us about what she would love to draw readers' attention to, in the Ramayana:
"I’d love to draw people’s attention to how sad the story is. For me, it’s not merely a triumphalist story about a man who gets his kingdom back, about a god who sets the world right. Within that framework, it’s about a husband and wife losing each other, about the separation between fathers and sons, about misunderstanding and betrayal among brothers, about power and petty jealousy, about how troubled family relationships can be. The Ramayana teaches us how hard it is to be good to the people that we love best."
Read our complete interview with Arshia Sattar here.