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Updated: May 9, 2011 16:15 IST

I will ride ten elephants

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Rani Lakshmibai, the Valiant Queen of Jhansi.
The Hindu
Rani Lakshmibai, the Valiant Queen of Jhansi.

History brought alive in this story a heroic queen who fought to keep her land independent of the British.

From clay and stone

She moulded her army

From mere wood,

She made swords

And the mountains she transformed

Into a steed

Thus she marched into Gwalior

A folksong celebrating the life of Lakshmibai, the queen of Jhansi. Practically all of us have heard of this name and it being synonymous with courage. Deepa Agarwal's book Rani Lakshmibai, the Valiant Queen of Jhansi captures the essence of her character and by the time you have finished reading the book, Rani Lakshmibai would seem like a close friend.

With remarkable ease, the author paints the character of the queen, right from the time she was a child. When she was pulled away while wanting to ride a royal elephant, she tells her father Maropant, “I will ride ten elephants”! And this comes true when she becomes Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi.

The author's description of her childhood is vivid. She had a unique one too as she was educated and because of which she had a tendency to be outspoken and independent. Qualities that told of her as a courageous queen.

Little Manu, as she was known before her marriage, finds firm friends in other girls of her age Sundar, Mandar Juhi, Motibai, Jhalkari Korin and Kashi, who later became trusted aides and fight bravely along with her.

Her lavish wedding is well portrayed and we can visualise the grand day. Tidbits of information at the end of every chapter help the reader understand the Rani better. It is said that a pocket edition of the Bhagwad Gita was her favourite book. The vivacious young girl became quieter and more thoughtful. The tomboy learned to clamp down on her quick temper and pick up the gracious ways of a queen.

The Chanderi weaves were her favourite and she wore her sari in the Maharastrian style, tucked between her legs.

Her life changes after her husband dies and she bravely battles both internal problems as well as problems brought on by the British.

Enough is said as one must read the book to experience and savour the story in all its nuances. The little History Bug gives you nuggets of information and trivia of the period.

Gripping accounts of her final battles with the enemy are related in a way that it remains with you long after you have finished the book and through these you relive the past and realise that here is a woman who can inspire you to face life, despite all the hurdles and hardship, facing life defiantly.



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