“The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and Me”


Submitted for Manbooker prize 2014
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Chapter 1
Oh, Magdalene.
I am your sister Lexmi, born in the twenty-third generation of the ancestry of your gene. After two thousand years, I came up through your genetic ladder to know the truth of your ‘self.”
I was brought up in the strict guidance and rituals of the Indian Vedas and Upanishads. I was exploring with wonder why you became my object of obsession. 
While wandering with the wings of dream in the pathways of Jerusalem’s temple and across the wild desert lands of Judea, your vibrant face bloomed before me.  Later, on the junctures where my femininity was confronted, I felt your presence. My life resembled yours. 
I have been meditating in this dark room for the past week as a penance just to hear your voice. 
I beg…
Oh, Magdalene, kindly fill yourself in me as a voice…
Feeble violin music rises; it transforms into a female voice…
The voice of Magdalene… 
It goes back with the time…
Beyond two thousand years…
I tuned my mind and body with that musical voice. 
My long time task gains…
Tell me Magdalene…. Share your moments of truth with me.
*                  *                    *                   *                  *
I am Mary Magdalene, the most misinterpreted woman in the history. 
 Dear Lexmi, I have been waiting painfully for you for many centuries. I should start my story right from my liaison with Jesus.
It was our wedding night. With his sweet and mesmerizing voice like the eternal music of immortal soul, Jesus said to me, “We were born for each other. In our childhood days, we fought and made up several times and realized finally that we belonged to each other. With your love only, I got my dignity. You are the person who showed me my own self.”
In the pure light of the olive lamp, my lovely eyes enveloped Jesus. He felt I was more beautiful than any angel in my snow white wedding dress. “Nobody in this world is so benign to me. How many rich peers yearned to take you as bride?” he asked me.
The hushed laughter of Mary, mother of Jesus, sounded outside the room. She was very happy on that day, and her constant melancholy evaporated. Consuming the remnant of the Jordan wine after the wedding, our relatives and friends swirled around hilariously.
An exotic divine fresh pine aroma exuded from my garments, and it spread over to Jesus. He gently sat near me on the bed and held my face near to his. He looked in to my eyes with extreme endearment. Those eyes were oceans of unending waves of love. My lips trembled near his lips. Even though we had been playmate from childhood, Jesus wondered out loud why he never noticed  my rich and surreal beauty. 
Often haunted by agonies and terrible loneliness, Jesus used to run to me when we were young. He would simmer and settle down in my company and at last sleep in my lap like a child. 
Today, that old playmate was suddenly my Groom. My joy multiplied as I watched him staring at me so lovingly. 
Any woman would have desired the handsome Jesus. Any woman would have lusted to strip before his eyes, filled with the peace and clemency of the other world as well as this world. Any woman would have received the gentle touch from his kind of charming long fingers. This was the golden moment of the fulfillment of a dream. I watched his face with love. 
“Why? Why am I not able to touch you in this wedding night?” He asked piteously. “This bridal chamber is filled with the footfalls of angels. As I move my hand to touch you, the incorporeal pigeons grow as large as eagles and hack at my heart brutally with their sharp rostrums.” 
“All of these are your phantasms, as usual. I believe that the only truth in this entire planet is our love,” I responded.  
He laced his hands at the nape of my neck and held tightly.  Our eyes met. As   he tried to kiss my lips, he wriggled with severe pain as if spasms of pain hurt his heart. Jesus slipped away. He squirmed on the floor like an epileptic patient and slowly immersed into a deep sleep. Were the forces of nature treating Jesus harshly? Why was he departing from me? Fear filled my heart. I do not know for how long I sat motionless in that night. Time sprawled like a tired snake. Deeply depressed, I lost my state of mind and slept for many long hours. 
…Suddenly the room was filled with poisonous cobras furiously approaching to bite Jesus, their horrifying hoods open wide. Hundreds of bloody torsos were scattered around him…. Jesus woke up from the nightmare. His tongue and lips were dry. He drank cold water hungrily from a goblet.  He felt that somebody was pushing him out of that room. He was forced to liberate from all physical temptations. He was moving to an eternal remission from all flusters….
Jesus looked at Magdalene, sleeping in her bridal apparel like a tender kitten. He felt no affinity right then. Poisonous snakes began approaching ferociously towards him, hissing. He ran from the room. While running, he turned once again to Magdalene. The wedding chain he tied round her neck seemed like another stark reptile coming to attack him.
He opened the door in a hurry. It was like somebody was chasing him out from that bridal chamber. Jesus fell on the floor. He rose up quickly and began to fly through infinite time, crossing the skies, travelling from planet to planet, outrunning light years…. 
There is no abatement for a bleeding soul, even when it covers billions of light years. Jesus heard himself, the moaning of a cursed birth. His running was for refuge. Was time frozen under his feet? Was the time taking birth from him? Or was he the incarnation of time? 

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Namasthe everbody,

I’m pleased to introduce my novel ” The Gospal of Mary Magdalene and Me” is submitted for 2014 Manbooker Prize. This year Manbooker committee made new rules and regulations  for  the submission,that makes  competition  even   harder than previsous years.

I have invested last 10 years of my life researching. writing and rewriting  this book.More than 500 books I have read before , I wrote this novel.

Born out of diversity  each of these women  lived apart for centuries  with out any meeting,     finally,provides a context and a narrative style unique to this novel.And  it unravels a     freshness of spirit.The tug of war between the ideologies of the east and west, the interplay of similarities in human nature spread over a vast expanse of time help  interpret and understand herself. The story draws its inspiration from my interest in the intriguing nature of feminist ideas alongside spirituality and sexuality

It was a sincere effort to highlight my passion for feminist philosophies, psychology and         politics. I chose to write a fiction as I enjoy telling stories and found it a good medium to weave in my other interests in sociology, history ,metaphysics  and quantum physics.

The first part of the novel deals with the recital of life experinces of Mary magdalene, who   lived nearly two thousand years ago.  there was a noble woman called  Lexmi who lived in modern era. In the second   part, Lexmi relates to Mary Magdalene , her woes as a philosopher and her frustrations    reflective of life  in today’s world. War  is just like terorism,  20  million people died  in the two world Wars and 10 million people vanished  at  the time of partission of India. My novel  is seriously discussing these issues.

As a legal practitioner in a remote village of India and her unceasing challeges  to corrupt  practices and her shattered dreams. Second part of the novel is semi-auto biographical.

This story, set in Jesusalem, Kashmir  and Kodungallur, a port city in the southern state of  Kerala.

All the things in my  consciousness  are the parts of my culture. Many people asked me why I wrote the story of Magdalene even when I was born as a Hindu. My reply is this: I am not a Hindu, Christian or a Muslim. I am the product of all good things  on this earth. The porridge which I drank today is made with rice grown in Thailand. I drank the result of the hard work of a Thailand farmer. I bow before that unknown farmer . Human beings  are  social animals and they cannot survive alone.

17 comments on ““The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and Me”

  1. Gospel essentially is a fantasy – an imaginary narration of the wishes of the lord by a disciple or a beloved. Hence it carries real and surreal elements in a human spirit with feelings and emotions. The real question has been do gospel carries gender bias? Often yes, essentially because of its surreal side. This gospel perhaps is the one ever clears the air of real and surreal in a balanced frame of reasoning and sequencing the myth. It epitomizes the heavenly bliss in a human parlance converging the real and imaginary ingredients in a magical crucible of creative influences.

    This gospel really carries truth – eternal and contemporary. While the contemporary truth haunts the author from its darker manifestations as if human beings are such weak lings, when cold comes in one will pile on the entire clothes one can. But the novel succeeds in pulling up the hidden eternal truth and realization of its never ending bliss like a spring flower with no protection, steadily pushing its way out of the snow for the moth to come and suck the nectar in it, in a gentle breeze. Obstinate are the trammels, yet the truth prevails.

    For sure, the real beauty of the novel converge in a cogent narration of the themes in a philosophical, anthropological, metaphysical and autobiographical ambience but quiet edible to even an uninitiated reader on any of the above. Some says there are seasons in life away from love. Can it be? Unlikely. Love is fire and none can really define it, predict its catchment and draw boundaries. Every love is unique – it has its own mystery and constraints of comprehension. As the choice of colors vary with time, space and age, the events and its implications travel all through the lines. One color, but remains – violet – the inevitable combination of red and blue, the essential contrast of warmth and the coolness, the ultimate realization of rethee and nirasam, to carry the fragrance of a non aging woman forward.

    For, well nigh about one and a half score years, the world of magdhalana and the master was apart. Yet they searched in and out for each other for no avail. They succeeded to maintain a stallion of fantasy and imaginations all through for a ride. There was hope, no, a sort of conviction to regain. They realized that it was not just a dream, nor the murmur of madness. Often it reminded them of love on whose behalf, earth returns to spring, the stars play the music of unity. Behold her. Beautiful and holding the wealth of utmost goodness.

    In sentences of great precision and balance, Rethy reanimates the dilemmas of the post-colonial depressions and the neo colonial inhibitions – the pathos of marginality and exile, the fear of throwing one into a void, the failure of the liberated to remake their societies, the inexorable slide into ruin. She may, at times, be characterized by irritable misanthropy, sexual disgust and by rage. In the canon of contemporary writing she is peerless – a cold, clear-eyed prophet, a scourge of sentimentality and humanism. Ever really glanced through her variety of human examples and the subsequent search for the underlying social causes? Do it, definitely you can see a Tolstoyan spirit. One can be socially successful but deliberately friendless. Naipaul agreed that a book is the product of a different self from the self we manifest in our habits, in our social life in our vices. Similar is the potential for a reader to reorient self away from the manifested self with this good book. Read her loud.

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  10. “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and Me”, written by Rethy Devi is one of the best ever novels of the 21st century. As long as Literature remains on earth, this title will attract more and more readers for sure.

    This novel maintains the real balance between the real and the surreal sides, as Gospel always has some sort of gender bias. Rethy’s well researched work is replete with logical reasoning, and care has been taken to blend and sequence the myth. The real joy of this novel is the lucid narration of vivid themes, set in a metaphysical, often times autobiographical, and above all philosophical and anthropological themes. Overall, “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and Me” is one of the best gems the contemporary literature has produced. Certainly, this novel is a book lover’s delight.

    Jayashankar Menon, Writer, Actor & Journalist (Former Research Editor of The New Indian Express)

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