In a session at the Times Litfest 2021, the author read an excerpt from her book for the viewers. The excerpt comprised of a conversation between Rani Laxmi Bai and a group of men that included her father, her husband, her adopted brother, and his friend at her in-laws’ house, and how she copes with the contemporary notions of gender and her new life as a queen and a married woman.
The daughter of a poor Brahmin, Manikarnika, as she was known in her maiden home, got married to the King of Jhansi who employed his father as a courtier. Her adopted brother Nana and his friend Tatya accompanied him and were having a discussion when Manikarnika was summoned. She was agitated and irritated by the customs and restrictions that she was subjected to as a queen and as a married woman. Despite being given equal opportunities at everything, she was married off at the age of 14 to a 40-year-old man whom she revered for allowing her access to every skill she wished to learn but held her freedom in his hands nevertheless.
She often felt envious of her brother and his friend for the luxuries and services that were at their disposal at all times. She would reply to their wistful comments by saying, “I’d rather lead the uncomplicated life of Manu. Being a Rani doesn’t suit my temperament.” Her sorrow at being stripped off of her identity as Manikarnika and having to refrain from the simple joys of life because of her regal status are depicted in the excerpt and the book by Podder, which traces Rani Laxmi Bai’s journey into the warrior queen she aspires to be.