Ahalya Book Excerpt
Excerpt / Literature

Ahalya by Koral Dasgupta, an Excerpt

Ahalya, first in the Sati series, has been nominated for the Popular Choice category and longlisted for Best Fiction Category by TOI’s AutHER awards.

With Ahalya and the Sati Series, Koral Dasgupta is trying to bring in a much-needed perspective change on women’s leadership. She plans to bring out the stories of the five legendary women of ancient India, Mythology called them Panch Kanya meaning, five virgins!

Ahalya, the book, is a unique retelling in the sense that nowadays most of the contemporary mythological writings are presented in a rather drab and formulaic style. Whilst this book on the other hand has a mystical quotient which makes the myth magical. More on the review later.

Presenting here an enchanting excerpt from the book, Ahalya:

Chapter 2

Days and nights passed. I wandered alone and at times enveloped by the Mist. We floated
together over valleys and mountains, watching life prosper and progress at its own pace.
The Mist narrated stories of Indra like a lullaby on balmy afternoons and folklore on breezy
evenings. Voice echoing like thunder, eyes red with fury, muscular body held erect, gallantly
riding on his celestial horse Uchchaishravas – vivid descriptions played clandestine images in
my dreams. The warrior was set to kill the asura Vritra, who was obstructing human
happiness by holding captive all sources of water. The war cry by the King of Gods had
shaken the underworld, threatening to uproot it with all its vice and scatter the leftovers in
the bottomless pit to fall perennially.
Long strands of hair flowing behind, strong arms determined to destroy the monstrous filth,
mouth carved to announce heroic victory – I could almost visualize the King of Gods at war
to return life to the thirsty Earth.
The Mist also narrated tales of his lovers, flickering obsessively with insomniac desires,
waiting to be pleasured by his hypnotic manoeuvres. ‘So powerful are his ploys of
seduction that there isn’t a woman who wouldn’t fantasize her presence in Indra’s
chambers. He plays with a woman as a child does with water. He would pick her up tenderly
with both his hands, cup her face in his palms and touch her with his lips. He would let her
explore far beyond the lips just like water drips on your neck and chest when you drink with
impatience. He would throw himself upon her, bathing through the sea of luxury, unwilling
to release till every inch of his being is soaked in the rhythm of his mistress.’
Almost sailing in the reverie of a majestic king’s sensuous practices, the word abruptly
halted my fancies. ‘Mistress?’ I uttered in dismay.
‘Indeed. Mistress they are,’ confirmed the Mist. ‘Making love with Indra inflicts such
weariness on his women that they fall into a timeless sleep, recovering only after he has left
them for good. Only Saachi, his wife, is blessed to match up to his passionate energies. No
one else.’
‘And Indra?’ I asked softly, unwilling to let this conversation end too soon. But the Mist was
smarter. ‘He is the ever insatiable one.’
She said and disappeared, leaving me alone with my fantasies. Maybe she could see that I
was on the edge of desperation to seek Indra and pose before him the most impossible
challenge of the cosmos. Would the lustful King of Devas, desirous of and desired by the
universe, like to explore the faceless? Can he touch in the absence of skin? Can he pleasure
the one without a body? Would the greatest lover known for his rugged energies
make love with this soul?
That evening when I returned to Brahma’s cave I found him standing there with a rare

happiness shining through his body. He gestured towards a lifeless figure lying on the
ground, her body smelling of sandalwood, her complexion close to ivory with a hint of rose.
The honey and floral extracts had settled on her upper crust adding hue and shine. Though
lifeless and rigid on the surface, the body seemed to possess the essence of rare vigour, as if
it were made to spark a revolution!
‘This is perfect, Father,’ I gushed.
‘Everyone is born perfect,’ Brahma advised. ‘They pick up the imperfections along the
course of life.’
Father commanded me to lie atop her. I obeyed. His eyes glittered with ecstasy as I slowly
merged with the tough exteriors of his sculpture. Almost immediately the wood softened
and gave way to smooth, glistening skin. The nostrils breathed. The fingers quivered. The
skin perched on to the new-found nerves and muscles as blood streamed through the veins.
I felt the fascinating beats of my heart. A drop of tear trickled down my eye with the
complex and painful consciousness of formally owning a body, though it lasted for no
more than a few blinks. I sat up. Long, silky hair swept all over my back like waves.

More on the Sati Series here.

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