What a Rani of a Jaya Devi

RAJ by Gita Mehta is a gripping read filled with the glow of India’s royalty’s wealth – of purse and mind.
Ms Mehta starts her story in 1897, when India was under Queen Victoria’s rule.
The tale unfolds through the green eyes of Jaya Singh and later Jaya Devi, a princess of a remote Indian kingdom who living life in opulence.
Her brother, Tikka, is soon turned into an English gentleman, with education in London. It’s more of a political expediency by his father, who comes across an intelligent person. The same for Jaya Devi’s mum, who is steeped in religious and cultural ways, as in living in purdah and versed in pujas.
The ceremonies of the Indian princes and kingly rulers then are astonishing to read in such detail. Note that it is fiction, but some aspects of India’s culture comes through albeit not enough. Like the king’s code of conduct, rajniti, and dharma.
However, seeing India through the princess’s eyes is interesting, for you get not the common European perception. Some will say it’s not a very welcome view of British rule over this jewel in Victoria’s crown.
But the polo-playing, Brit-educated princes — one of whom ends up as Jaya Devi’s husband who looks at her with such disdain – most likely deserved their ultimate end in 1947 when India became independent.
In between these decades comes Gandhi, nationalism, partition of India, and the Amritsar tragedy.
Jaya Devi sees it all, and has to struggle with a philandering hubby called Pratap, traditional beliefs and her own sorrows of losing a child and eventually her kingdom.
What a price she and India paid, in everything. A good read!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *