Mudit Shrivastava*
LADY TARZAN! JAMUNA TAKES A STAND* by By Lavanya Karthik. Illustrations by Rajiv Eipe Jugnoo Prakashan, an imprint of Ektara Trust, 2023, 16 pp., INR 90.00
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

What can a single woman do on her own? The question can also be posed as ‘can a single human do anything significant by themselves after all.’ The story of Jamuna Tudu is one such tale. Lavanya Karthik has presented Jamuna’s story in a very interesting manner. One hears the swish of an arrow the moment they open the book. Seeing this arrow from Jamuna’s quiver, the axes pulled out to cut the jungle trees of Muturkham village trembled with fear. The story begins with a scene from Jamuna’s childhood. Her father tells her that trees are also like our brothers and sisters. ‘Who takes care of you when your parents or your siblings are not around? Who provides you with candies-toffees and food? And who bandages you when you get hurt?’ The readers find themselves with these questions right away and the answers they come up with are the picturesque trees illustrated in the book.
From that day onwards,Jamuna decides to think of trees as her brothers. Upon reaching the Muturkham village after her marriage, she finds herself unable to see the treesbeing cut. She requests the villagers to take a stand against this but ends up going alone to save the trees after all. This is what the story is about. The story of how a single woman steps out of her home to save the trees and the jungle without caring about her life and emerges as amorcha. And spends her life for the trees.
People like Jamuna are superheroes and wonder women in the truest sense. The illustrations by Rajiv Eipe are done as beautifully as the story has been narrated. The trees in the book have been etched with such beauty that one feels that they are getting into the dense jungles of Muturkham! This is a new and rare way of presenting biography for the children. Share it with children and read it yourself.
Jamuna Tudu, an Indian environmental activist, with five other women prevented illegal felling of trees near her village and this later expanded into an organization. She is called ‘Lady Tarzan’ for taking on the Timber mafia and Naxals in Jharkhand. Born 19 December 1980, in Mayurbhanj, she is the daughter of Bagrai Murmu (father); Bobyshree Murmu (mother).
*The review has been translated from the Hindi by Apoorva Raje.