Saturday, February 7, 2015

#BookReview: A Mirrored Life by Rabisankar Bal, Arunava Sinha

On the jacket:

On his way from Tangiers to China, the medieval Moorish traveller Ibn Battuta arrives in Konya, Turkey where the legendary dervish Rumi had lived, danced and died. More than half a century may have passed since his death, but his poetry remains alive, inscribed in every stone and tree and pathway. 

Rumi’s followers entrust Ibn Battuta with a manuscript of his life stories to spread word of the mystic on his travels. As Battuta reads and recites these tales, his listeners discover their own lives reflected in these stories—fate has bound them, and perhaps you, to Rumi. 

A Mirrored Life reaffirms the magical powers of storytelling, making us find Rumi in each of our hearts.


To be truthful, I don't know where to begin writing this review from. Should I write about the author, the translator, the book or the subject. Each was so par excellence, that someone like me ends up being at a loss of words at times like this. I finished reading this book more than 36 hours ago and am still trying to frame sentences in my head, to justify the experience it was.

I would have said this book was poetry on paper, but that wouldn't have made sense. There is numerous poetry on paper. You see, as I said, I am short of the right words. Still, let me try.

Sinha is an excellent translator, I don't need to say it out to the world. I'd read Chowringhee, I think some 8-9 years ago and since then, despite being able to read in Bengali, I 'like' reading his edited version. I have not read Bal's previous book yet but I have heard only praises about it. So when another book by Bal, translated by Sinha came up, the temptation to read it was high.

Ibn Battuta is on a journey to find out about the life and times of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi. We are on the journey with Ibn and trust me, it's a mystical one. The other characters Ibn encounters while on his journey, the lessons he learns from them, the experiences he gains - all stay with the reader too. I cannot say this enough that most translated books leave you with a bad taste of a feeling that a lot was lost in translation, but not this book. You can hear the author, what he wants to tell you. 

Rumi's relationships, his life experiences and his own transition from being a religious scholar to a dervish, his relationship with Shams everything draws the reader into a divine rapture. 

As I had guessed, I could not do justice to the book in the review, so I will not attempt more. Pick it to read a tale so soulful and magical that it will leave you wanting more. 

Rating: *****/5

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