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Usha Narayan’s Latest Book Depicts How Lord Kartikeya Had Abandonment Issues

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“Kartikeya and his Battle with the Soul Stealer” by Usha Narayanan makes for a riveting read as it records the bildungsroman of Kartikeya and his growth in the process of finding the true purpose of his life.


Kartikeya, the god of war and the son of the gods Shiva and Durga, was deprived of a stable family life from the beginning of his journey. Finding himself alone in a forest on a discreet mountain made him wonder what he was and where he came from. This pain made him feel helpless and confused. Even though he is the descendant of two gods, Kartikeya displays human characteristics and flaws which makes him more of a relatable protagonist. Many instances from the book prove that the son of Shiva had abandonment issues, which were carried forward by him for the rest of his life.

“The beasts around me cradle their young. They bring them food and protect them from their foes. But my parents… my parents have abandoned me on this cruel mountainside. I am at the mercy of the sun, the wind and the wild creatures that stalk their prey at night!”  (Page xi)

Having been whisked away mercilessly from the care and shelter of his parents, Kartikeya feels lonely as an infant. Everywhere he looks in the forest; he sees animals taking care of their young ones. However, he could not find anyone of his kind to take care of him. When left in the bleak mountainside, Kartikeya could feel the pangs of isolation creeping upon him, setting a deep-rooted fear of abandonment. It sets a void in him; insecurity which would continue to cause him mental distress and force him to ask many questions about his lineage throughout the book. Making sense of himself and attempting to understand his existence on his own scares him. He does not have anyone to guide him in this endeavour, which makes this process even more daunting.

This fear of not knowing oneself is of utmost torment. Consequently, it leaves a seething rage in Kartikeya towards his abandoners and so, he decides that he would fend for himself until the time came for him to confront the ones who had left him to his fate in the midst of the forest.

“You deserted me, left me to die! But here I am, standing strong and invincible,’ he would tell them. ‘I am sure I was born for a purpose. I will find it and claim my place in the world!” (Page xiii)

Being vulnerable in such a manner lays an urgent need in his consciousness to show his abandoners – his capacity to be independent and capable of living on his own. However, this desperation stems from the reality of him being taken away from where he belonged. The crushing moment of not knowing his origin leaves him in a displaced state of mind, as the absence of this knowledge would be a source of misery for anyone. As the world goes by around him, he can sense that there is no one to look after him making him crave for the warmth of a human connection. As it happens, one tends to cling to the most remote source of attachment that one can find in such circumstances. So, Kartikeya yearns for this affinity from an unfriendly gibbon. The fear of being abandoned is so tremendous for him that it haunts him all the time. He feels neglected and undervalued as there is no one to take responsibility for him, unlike all the younger animals in the forest.

Feeling unloved and dejected establishes a long-lasting impact on Kartikeya – harbouring affinity to the human nature in his divine self. This nature is the very essence of the book, as it embraces and strengthens the idea of being vulnerable. The craving for safety, stability, value, community and support is a natural one when someone feels abandoned. It is only through one’s vulnerabilities that we learn to value the result that comes after struggling with these issues. Conquering them is no less than a divine feat.

Editor’s note:

Usha Narayanan’s ‘Kartikeya and his battle with the Soul Stealer’ makes for a riveting read as it records Kartikeya’s journey of finding his true calling.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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