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The Queen of Jasmine Country

The Queen of Jasmine Country

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Tonight, under this arena of starlight, I take up my stylus and press it by the glow of a clay lantern into dry palmyra leaves. It is on this night that I dedicate myself - to my self, to who I truly am, to what is invincible and without bondage of time, that predates me, that will outlive me.

Ninth century. In Puduvai, a small town in what we now know as Tamil Nadu, young Kodhai is taught to read and to write by her adoptive father, a garland-weaving poet. As she discovers the power of words, she also realizes that the undying longing for a great love that she has been nursing within her - one that does not suppress her desire for freedom - is likely to remain unfulfilled. Then, she hears of a vow that she can undertake that might summon it to her.

In deepest winter, the sixteen-year-old begins praying for a divinely sensual love - not knowing that her words will themselves become prayers, and echo through the centuries to come.

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fiction / indian / Sharanya Manivannan /