Eklavya, as we all know, is a non-profit NGO engaged in the creation and dissemination of educational resources among children who need them most. In partnership with Parag, an initiative of Tata Trusts, they have been creating books suitable for use by children in India’s less-developed regions. It is a pleasure to receive their books for reviewing as the books will undoubtedly reach very many children and teachers.
Text and illustrations by Nishith Mehta
Eklavya and Parag Initiative, 2020, pp. 14, `55.00
Kashti is a fourteen page, wordless, picture book written and created by the artist and writer, Nishith Mehta. A short poem in Hindi, at the end of the book, sums up the theme of the book but other than that there are only pictures on every page. So it is upto the reader to create the story page by page. This is both exciting and fun. Such books make every reader a writer!
Kashti is about the adventures of a small paper boat. She happens to float into a discarded pipe, runs into sea-animals, is tossed into a stormy sky, is buffeted by a desert storm, is tossed back into water and is finally thrown out of the pipe to transform into a rocket!
What? Yes. That was my reaction too! The story requires leaps of imagination from the reader and a kind of willing suspension of disbelief. Perhaps the writer wanted the child-reader to break out of the straitjacket of reality and enjoy a fantastic ride. However, the story fails to satisfy as it does not follow the rules of cause and effect. Even imaginative stories need to be plausible. In this case the connections are missing.
The artwork is beautiful. It is captivating, enthralling and interesting. If only the thread holding the pictures together was less tenuous!
A boat’s tumultuous journey is a natural metaphor for the journey of life: unpredictable, hazardous, exciting, peaceful, beautiful and finally transformative. A sensitive reader would be able to feel all this on turning the pages of this book. In this sense, the book can trigger thoughtful discussions in a classroom.