Shazia Salam
CHITTI: EK KUTTA AUR USKA JUNGLE FARM (CHITTI: A DOG AND HER FOREST FARM) by By Sero. Translated from the English by Jitendra ‘Jeet’. Illustrations by Rajiv Eipe. Layout by Tanya Majumdar. Hindi layout by Kanak Shashi. Edited by Seema Kalpavriksha, 2023, pp., INR 115.00
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

Chitti: Ek Kutta aur Uska Jungle Farm is a story of a stray dog who finds her forever home on the author’s farm, nestled deep within the Western Ghats. Despite coming from the city, she quickly adapts to her new life in the rich forest farm where sheesham and cinnamon grow in abundance. The farm is the author’s universe and she welcomes Chitti into it with open arms. She wonders whether Chitti, a city dog will get along in her environ and with her other dog called Scrabble but Chitti surprises her.
Despite being used to the shining lights of the city and not the pitch darkness of the farm, Chitti becomes one with her surroundings. She goes around jumping in joy, chasing monkeys and feasting on fruits, termites, jackfruit chips and moths in the wild. Often, she would come home with her face splattered with wild berry colours. Through Chitti we get to see different seasons, vegetation, flora and fauna of the Western Ghats.
The thundering rains visit more than often and the narrator and her pet dogs take comfort in cuddling together to evade the scare and noise. Apart from an expression of friendship and trust between the author and her pets, it is a reference to the impact of climate change in the story. Weather in the Western Ghats is seeing noticeable changing rainfall patterns and it is causing distress to the farmers who rely on crop production for their livelihood.
Chitti gradually becomes an attraction for students from the city who come for nature camps and walks. As time goes by, Chitti gets old and spends most of her time around the house. After living through thirteen monsoon seasons, she passes away. To respect Chitti’s love for the land she so willingly adapted to, she is buried at one of her favourite spots under the wide open sky where the stars would watch over her and trees would form a warm embrace around her grave.
Chitti’s story is a powerful tale of relationship between animals, humans and nature. It is a story about being loyal and faithful in our relationships. It also reminds us of our responsibility to give back to mother earth and utilize the resources in a responsible manner. The beautiful illustrations contribute to the story by bringing the greenery alive.