There are hardly any women fiction writers in Hindi other than Nasera Sharma who knows Farsi and draws from it a refined sensibility required by a writer to tell tales of human aspirations and suffering. Having written more than twelve novels, nine collections of short stories and very many reportage, she has actually mastered the craft of writing stories for children. No wonder she has spent most of her working life in serving either children in the capacity of a member of Bal Bhawan (Delhi) or attending meetings of such bodies in Jammu, Mandi and Daman & Diu, also influencing the decision to set up such bodies in Patna and other places. As a journalist she attained the distinction of identifying and rescuing Iranian children trapped in Iraqi possession who were finally handed over to Iran. The book under review is a collection of her latest short stories, twelve in all, Galion ke Shahzade. The first story sets the tone for the entire book. A bunch of six girls, poor, surviving on the railway platform by selling plastic toys, water bottles or just about anything that can be sold quickly to passengers. The individual lives of this group of girls, some orphaned, some simply tossed around by fate which is nothing but poverty, has been told with great sensitivity. The way people treat them, the way the police always suspect them of theft and the way they fight back to remain dignified as working children has been narrated in great detail.
October 2020, volume 44, No 10