I remember the first time I read Dipa Sanatani’s The Little Light, just a couple of months ago. The world as we knew it was coming to a stand still. The atmosphere was tense and all that people seemed to search for in that moment was some sense of normalcy… something to hold on to.
Amidst that havoc, I had the pleasure of reading a book that managed to ground me to a reality that seemed beyond the physical realm of the world. Most importantly, one character stood out as a figure that I aspired to be. She had a clear vision of her life and she seemed to have made peace with it.
And that seemed almost amazing. Was that even possible anymore?
Her interactions showed strength for both herself and the others around her. And she was exactly what the world needed right now.
“I cannot change the ways of mankind. But I can provide you with safe passage to survive life’s darkest days and emerge untouched, unscarred and untarnished.
Of this, You have my promise.”
-Jupiter from Dipa Sanatani’s The Little Light
What is the true meaning of strength? Is it the compassionate way that we embrace the beauty in the world and in ourselves or the wonderful talent of always finding the silver lining in every grey cloud? Well, Jupiter showed both. She brought lightheartedness and hope along with her when she first appeared.
And that stood out to me.
Dipa Sanatani managed to capture the complexities of relationships with her portrayal of celestial beings. Her characters embraced the reality of human nature with their virtues and vices. And what was so marvellous about Jupiter was that she has accepted all of it – the good, the bad and everything in between. Despite her kind words and positive interactions, she still knew when to put her foot down and be stern.
Jupiter was a character like I had never seen before. ‘How wonderful would it be if Jupiter could come down to earth and fill us all with positivity!’ I remember wondering as I read about her. My curiosity got the better of me when I got the privilege of asking Sanatani about her book. And I couldn’t help but drill her brain to find out about the birth of this wonderful character.
Uma: There is a lot of thought that seems to have been put into the making of each character in your book, from their personality to the intricacies of their physical attributes. Could you tell us a bit about your personal journey of creating the charismatic Jupiter in The Little Light?
Dipa: The Little Light was the third book I wrote. But it was the first book where the characters came to me fully formed with a life of their own. Each one of them had a unique voice and their own set of idiosyncrasies. As I wrote this book, I felt like I was an instrument taking dictation of a family gathering that was occurring somewhere in the multiverse.
As an avid reader of world mythology from a young age, I have drawn on various mythologies from different traditions in informing each character. And yet, each character was somehow reinvented as I sat down and wrote their story. It was an exhilarating journey that brought me much joy.
Jupiter is a character that displays silent strength. We often think of strength as bravado and toughness. Yet, I believe real strength does not thump its chest to intimidate others. It is born out of compassion for all living beings. Believe me – it is far harder to exercise compassion than it is to gain power through intimidation.
Uma: Optimism is a major personality trait that we see in Jupiter. In fact, one of the first lines that describe her is “ Jupiter has always had a way of infusing optimism into the direst of circumstances. The Little Lights blessed by Jupiter have the ability to see the silver lining in the greyest of clouds.”
In your opinion, what do you think of that kind of perspective in real life? Does this trait somehow relate to your views on life?
Dipa: In life, one meets all kinds of characters. The Cosmic Family is no different. Jupiter is the eternal optimist. Whenever we go through tough phases in life, there is a little voice inside each and everyone of us that reaches out and urges us to see that things will get better. Jupiter is that universal voice. That part of us that believes that life – in its truest essence – is born out of compassion.
I don’t believe we’re meant to ignore or downplay the hardships of life – but rather to stay true to our hearts in spite of it. Having said that, Jupiter is the Celestial Being with the strongest sense of wrath. As to why and how this plays out… readers will have to read the novel to find out.
“Your presence in the world makes it a better place. Some of the others may not like you, but I want you to know I have deep stores of affection for you”
Uma: Most common myths and lore regarding Jupiter, be it the Roman representation of Jove, the Greek Zeus or the Hindu figure of Guru, all consider this particular being to be that of a man’s.
What motivated your depiction of Jupiter as a female/gender fluid being in your book?
Dipa: That is how the character came to me as I wrote the book. As I said, all the characters all had a life of their own and came to me fully formed. Sometimes when I re-read The Little Light, I still can’t believe I wrote it.
When I think about this idea and how it applies to our modern world – we all have ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ traits inside of us. As to what we consider feminine and masculine – these are more societal constructs than they are actual realities. We get conditioned into what a ‘man’ or ‘woman’ is meant to be. Some of us are content with meeting societal expectations, whilst for some of us it just doesn’t reflect who we are deep down.
I think too many people live with the shame of what they truly desire.
Jupiter urges us to stay true to our soul – and know that there is a lot more to us than we realise.
About the Author
Uma Anilkumar is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in English Studies. She is often captivated by new, interesting ideas, especially that of pop culture and is always in search of learning something new. A lover of all kinds of art, she is a writer and poet during her free time and dreams of publishing her own work in the future.