Magic of the Wild in Our Daily Lives
Maya Joshi
WILD AND WILFUL: TALES OF 15 ICONIC INDIAN SPECIES by Neha Sinha HarperCollins, 2021, 240 pp., 599.00
October 2022, volume 46, No 10

This beautiful book grips one at the cover, and the title. Having just returned from a workshop that engaged with ecology—cultural, political, and conventionally ecological—and exploring its location in spaces of interiority, the blurb by Sumana Roy, author of the lyrically meditative How I Became a Tree, resonated: ‘Neha Sinha’s language is one of addiction, of enthusiasm, of trust—for life and in the living. This book reminds us that only a vocabulary of intimacy with the living will save us, and them.’ By the time I came to the dedication, I was hooked: ‘This book is dedicated to the first wild animal I saw—a small Indian mongoose in my garden. He didn’t mind me, and it all started from there.’

He didn’t mind me sets the tone: the book places the human where he belongs, as a sharer of space with creatures much misunderstood owing to anthropocentric arrogance and sheer ecological illiteracy. The book expands the gaze beyond ‘exotic wildlife’ encountered in jungle safaris to the wilderness at our doorsteps, to consider how (not) to respond to what Sinha calls India’s wildest and most wilful citizens, an interesting noun to ponder the implications of.

Continue reading this review