Anil Singh
AABOHAWA ME BADLAV KE ROZANA AFSAANE* by By Gemma Sou, Adeeba Nuraina Risha, Gina Ziervogel. Illustrations by Cat Sims. Translated from the original English into Hindi by Laltu Eklavya, 2023, 40 pp., INR 100.00
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

The story of Climate Change and its impact is not very old. It is a by-product of our development in recent years. However, the debate around it and the issues related to it are reduced to sloganeering and jargons in the developed world community. Neither is the common person able to connect to the issue nor is there a clear picture of the impact of its seriousness on ordinary everyday life. Many a times, governments debate this issue through a political or diplomatic lens or merely as a formality.
Everyday Stories of Climate Change published in January 2023 has turned the debate around climate change on its head. Supported by Parag and published by Eklavya, this book is actually based on the work done by some serious ground level researchers, who have focused on common lives and actual characters, rather than on technical and conceptual issues.
According to the book, usually when we talk about Climate Change, we say ‘the earth is heating up’, ‘rains have become unpredictable’, etc. For the common man, it is difficult to relate to this jargon, because it does not say how the daily lives of the common person will be affected or how their daily lives might change or are changing because of this. No report talks about this. Reports only mention people affected by climate change as a cohort or statistical figures.
The Australian doctor, Gemma Sou, Adeeba Nuraina Risha of Bangladesh and Dr Gina Ziervogel from Cape Town, South Africa, study issues such as natural disasters, climate change, environment policies, citizen rights, water crisis, etc. The scope of their study includes the attitude of the local administration, the role of media and the impact of these changes on common people. All of them have together done ground level studies of climate change and its impact on the everyday lives of ordinary families in different corners of the world. This is not some classical or scientific study; in fact, it is a diary of the daily struggles of common people. It includes conversations with those people, real and emotional stories of their efforts, of how they dealt with change and the compromises they have made by changing their habits and lifestyle.
In Khulna district of Bangladesh, due to increase in the salinity of the river, women are left with no choice but to travel a long distance to get drinking water. Halima’s family is thinking of shifting to Dhaka. Raju cannot brush his teeth with tap water, it is so salty. They collect rainwater and use it for cooking, bathing and growing vegetables.
In Cape Town, South Africa, water supply was reduced in the city due to lack of rainfall. Elna and her family think up ways of living with reduced water. They have discovered seeds of vegetables that grow in less water. She approaches the ward councillor to get the water leakage fixed, but racial discrimination and inequality just make matters more complicated. She then takes up the matter with a local citizen rights organization.
In a small town, Cochabamba, in South America’s Bolivia, Mauge is forced to sell wares as a street vendor to raise her grandchildren. Her daughter, Noelia, is away in Madrid, Spain, to earn more money to get their house repaired in Cochabamba. Due to unpredictable rains in that area, their house is prone to sink in and get damaged. Mauge has been more worried since the previous week, when a neighbour’s house sunk in, and the local administration refused to provide any help as the neighbours did not have proper papers for the house.
In Puerto Rico’s Toa Baja, life is chaotic because of Hurricane Maria. There is no work and unemployment is on the rise. People are deprived of basic nutritious food, as things get costlier. Luisa has found a new recipe to make chicken soup with peas instead of chicken. To adapt according to the circumstances seems the only way out.
Travelling to various corners of the world, the book finally takes us to Codrington, Barbuda. Nine months post Hurricane Irma, life is still not back to normal. Denise, who works at a restaurant, is living under the fear of the next hurricane season. Children get scared if the wind blows just a little harder.
Climate Change pointedly brings out before us the inequality that already exists world over in people’s health and everyday lives. For diverse reasons, it affects those who are already weak.
The wonder of this book is that it is published in graphic form, and illustrated by Cat Sims, a graphic designer from London. She has brought the geographical and cultural identities of people in the book to life through her art. The writer, Laltu, has done such a magnificent job at the Hindi translation that it seems like an original story collection.
The book is a genuine document of genuine stories which attempts to understand and explain complex issues that are otherwise limited to lengthy reports and debates, through the lives of real, living characters. A black and white book of merely 40 pages, it definitely leaves a mark!

*Review translated from the Hindi by Shivani Bajaj.