Why do snakes have a forked tongue?
How did Sitaphal (Custard Apple) get its name?
Why don't the squirrels hurt themselves even after falling from heights?
Stolen Hope is the third book in the series and follows The Game of Life: Shattered Dreams and gives you answers to such simple yet intriguing facts. Shattered Dreams captured that part of Ramayana where King Dasaratha gives Rama 14 years of exile and reserves the throne of Ayodhya for Bharata due to a promise made to Keikeyi. Stolen hope is an account of thirteen years of Rama's exile along with Sita and Laxmana who accompanied him in the arduous mission.
Rama, Sita and Laxman are supposed to spend fourteen years in exile. However, they do not perceive this as a punishment. The regret of not being able to enjoy the royal life does not cross any of their minds. Instead, they look forward to the company of august sages and the teachings that will come their way during these fruitful years. The glory of the Trio precedes them and they are welcomed warmly wherever they go. The inhabitants of Dandakaranya, Janasthana and Panchavati not only shower their love and blessings on them but also guide them for their onward journey. Every living being around them is grateful and obliged to be able to serve the mighty and benevolent Rama. Rama also religiously follows his vow to eliminate Rakshsas who torment the naïve sages and helpless humans. After spending thirteen long years in different forest habitats, the Trio was looking forward to return to Ayodhya and meet Bharata and rest of the family. They decide to spend their last year of exile in the beautiful forest of Panchvati. However, the otherwise serene life of these three ad-hoc ascetics is upturned when Ravana abducts Sita and leaves Rama and Laxmana wondering about her whereabouts.
Having read the earlier books in the series, it was convenient for me put the pieces in sequence. However, even if you have not read the Book 1 & 2 of the series, you will not feel lost because of two reasons: first, almost of all us, at least in India, are aware of the basic plot of Ramayana and second, the author has given a summary of both the previous books in the beginning. The format of this book is similar to the earlier one. Simple words and alignment of important incidents as short comprehensible stories is what makes this series stand out. I particularly like the footnotes given on each page that highlight the importance of age-old classic to our day-to-day life. Ramayana, needless to say, is full of wise teachings but its application in practical life is lost in comprehension. Shubha Vilas bridges that gap for us.
The captivating cover page is also worth a mention here. Stolen Hope captures the thirteen years of exile in 300 odd pages readable in 3 days, at the most 4. And I certainly look forward to the Book # 4 of Ramayana – The Game of Life.
My Rating: 4 out of 5