Varsha: The Rain by Nabanita Deshmukh, won first prize in the category Concept Books in the competition for Writers of Children’s Books organized by CBT. The child’s excitement at the first rain, especially her splashing through puddles and Amma’s subsequent unhappiness, ring true. One hopes it brings back fond memories to the parent or grandparent so the next time it rains, they will encourage the child to run out, splash around and get dirty, instead of playing a video game. Saurabh Pandey has perhaps not thought through his illustrations, as I thought the smart cupboard with sliding shelves for shoes with the first verse sat oddly with the huts and mother washing clothes in the stream with later verses. Actually, I wish the entire verse of washing clothes in the stream had been somewhat different, so that playing in the rain was more aspirational for the young readers and the adults.
A quibble I have is that translations should catch not just words but ideas. In the sentence ‘Akarsh smiled as he put the rest of it (biscuit) into his own mouth’ conveying simple joy, Suman Bajpayi’s translation unnecessarily inserts ‘jhaat se’ (‘quickly’) conveying a different attitude. It would also have been nice to have a few rhyming words in ‘Rimjhim Varsha Aayi’, the Hindi version of The Rain.
The most joyous part of the books is the price. These bright, cheerful, thought provoking, idea planting books are just Rs 40 each. This subsidy is one use of my taxes I thoroughly approve of! I will be buying a whole lot for my clinic to give to children to read, and even as small gifts! Why give a child patient a chocolate to distract, which lasts for a few minutes but leads to sticky patches which later attract ants, and caries in the teeth, when one can give a low cost but attractive, long lasting, calorie free, object? All in all, viva la kids, their books, and CBT!
Anju Virmani is a Delhi-based Endocrinologist/ Pediatric Endocrinologist.