I Am OM
Synopsis: Dr. Veena Damle has taken her own background as a medical doctor and as a Hindu to recreate the central myths of the Hindu religion, making them and a slice of India accessible to westerners in a way that, say, Aesop made the moral tradition the Greeks accessible to the following generations of non-Greeks. In this novel, we follow a Hindu family of two physicians, their daughter, and her grandfather through a mounting crisis of infidelity and greed. The home crisis is echoed by the grandfather’s retelling of The Mahabharata, especially Arjun’s war against his own family.
Damle’s prose is deceptively simple—combining the lyrical with the narrative in a way that echoes her meshing of Western and non-Western traditions. Young Manju and old Azoba are a granddaughter-grandfather team you won’t forget.
ISBN 0-942979-79-6, trade paper, $12.00 Sale $6.00
ISBN 0-942979-80-X, library bindin, $25.00 Sale $12.50
Veena Damle is a California physician specializing in pediatrics. She moved from Bombay, India, to the United States in 1975. This is her first novel.
from the Book:
“Once upon a time, when the gods still walked the earth, the great sage Vyasa wrote The Mahabharat—the story of the Kauravs and the Pandavs.”
“Who were they?” asked Manju.
“The Kauravs were the hundred sons of the blind king Dhritirashtra, and the Pandavs were the sons of Pandu. You see, Pandu could not have children of his own—so his wives had five sons from the gods: Yudhishtir, the eldest, who could never tell a lie; Bhim, the strongest man on earth; Arjun, Krishna’s favorite; and the twins, Nakul and Sahadev.”
Azoba spread chuna on a betel leaf and put it in his mouth.
“Krishna saw the web of Maya that the gods had spread over the earth, and came down as the incarnation of Vishnu to bring dharma to the damned and glory to the chosen few.”
Azoba’s voice rose and fell like the music of River, as he told Manju the story of the Great War of the Bharatas. Azoba had been a frog in his previous life, then a dove with gleaming breast. He’d sat on the branches of the peepal tree watching the events that took place long ago. Eons later he was born as Azoba, Manju’s grandfather.
From here begins our tale.