Both the stories are set in the tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh. Balamma is a spirited 12-year-old girl. She reaches her peanut farm at the crack of dawn before any one is up and waters her peanut crop. When the neighbouring field of the landlord Tirumalla Rao gets less water, the annoyed landlord decides to teach Balamma a lesson.
Balamma’s family had been bonded labourers of the landlord’s family for generations but not any more. The landlord carried a grudge against them for this. To punish Balamma, he goes to the fields early in the morning and hides in the long grass. When Balamma comes there to water her crop, he jumps on her and tries to molest her. But the brave girl hits the landlord in his groin so hard that he falls on the ground and she races off to the village. The villagers are all praise for her.
The story vividly describes village surroundings, and the reader gets a glimpse of the life of the tribal people their ethnicity, food, etc. The black and white illustrations are in the tribal style.
The flow of text is not smooth. The font is pretty small and at times, difficult to read against the dark background.
‘Diler Badeyya’ is about a hardworking boy, Badeyya. His father and others in his tribe work with dead animals. They skin the animals, treat and dry the skin and make footwear with it. They are considered as untouchables and are not treated fairly. Badeyya is a good student who learns his lessons and obeys the teacher but the teacher insists he sit only in the last row, away from the others. Badeyya is not happy with this.
Considered untouchable, the people of Badeyya’s tribe are supposed to step aside and take off their slippers and stand barefoot if other villagers cross their path. Once Badeyya’s mother saw the village Patel walking by, and so she took off her slippers and hurt her foot. A dog chewed up her slippers and she had to walk barefoot, in severe pain. Grieved, Badeyya gets up in the middle of the night, takes a piece of animal skin and makes slippers for his mother. When the mother discovers this, she is overwhelmed.
This story touches your heart.
Girija Rani Asthana has written over twenty books and a hundred stories for children in English and Hindi.