Shazia Salam
CHHAPAAK!!! (A BIG SPLASH) by By Niveda Ganesh. Translated by Nidhi Saxena. Cover design by Tanvi Parulkar. Edited by Seema & Bharat Tripathi Karadi Tales, 2022, 76 pp., 80.00
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

Lives of children in rural parts of Tamil Nadu are beautifully captured in five short story books originally published in English by Karadi Tales Company. The stories under review are the translations published by Eklavya Foundation. A collection of thought-provoking tales aimed to educate children, inculcate sensitivity in them, help them shed prejudice and learn good life lessons at an early age. It is an earnest attempt to highlight the struggles and lives of the marginalized people of rural India and give them a voice.
Chhapaak is an insightful tale of a determined young girl who, despite being differently abled reaches for the stars with unwavering determination. It imparts valuable lessons about courage to dream, and making and preserving friendships with love and empathy.
Since the age of four, Dhivya had been a constant presence in the water, spending her days swimming in the nearby lake close to her home. She revels in swimming but forming friendships proves to be a challenge in her life. Her fiery temper often leads to disputes and alienates her from other children in the village. She is never accepted in their play group. Dhivya’s life takes a turn when she meets Ramu who advises her to take part in competitive swimming. She seizes this opportunity, embarking on a new journey in her life—from someone who loved swimming for fun to a determined competitor.
A regrettable incident one day leads to a heated falling out with her friend Ambika, with Dhivya speaking hurtful words in a fit of anger. Once again, Dhivya finds herself without a cherished friend. It is her encounter with people like Ambika who make her learn important life lessons that change her perspective and her ways of dealing with people.