An excellent book I received recently; it is all about birds through the eyes of tribal boys. It is a small book. And I have often thought that small books are like magnets.
Long back I read a book which in the form of a letter written by students to a teacher; it was an original Italian book translated in Marathi. This short book left deep impression, and I read and re-read it.
Albert Camus’ ‘Reflections on the Guillotine’ is an eighty-one pages book and that too in small size. Sun Tzu’s famous book ‘Art of War’ is actually a sixty-eight pages pocket book. And Vinoba Bhave’s ‘Gitai’ is 3.5”x4.5” size book which we can carry in our shirt pocket. All these are ‘difficult-to-put-downable’ books.
Usually, short books are imaginatively written and they have a unique quality. The NGO Vayam recently published ‘पाखरां’ ‘Pakharaan’ (Birds) which falls in this category. Just 48 pages, and those too of small size 5.5”x5.5”. It has information about twenty-five birds. What makes it unique is the way it was produced.
Tribal children make observations of birds, their habitats, what they eat etc. They eat the birds, unaware as they are of the ‘endangered species’ declaration. Vayam is an NGO which collected the information of the birds from the tribal children, their perspectives. They helped the tribal children classify birds in their own way, searching similarities. In the process everyone was learning. Beautiful exercise indeed.
Some of the words used are in the language of the tribals. When they mention ‘tiskoli’ they are saying ‘needle like’. And some observations may not be in the experience set of urban bird watchers.
For example, the children mention that ‘Black Drongo’ is seen on the tree near the cremation ground. This bird is found near smoke.
Painted Stork (Karkocha in Marathi) is considered as ‘Devacha pakshi’ (God’s bird) so it is not hunted.
The children mention where the birds make their nests, how many eggs they lay in it, what they eat, the ‘strategy’ for catching birds like Greater Coucal (Bharadwaj).
All in all, a wonderful book made by a wonderful project. A must read. Available for Rs 100 At Lokshahi Jagar Kendra, Jambhul Vihir Purv, Jawhar, Dist Palghar, 401603
Vivek S Patwardhan
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” / Read more Lulu blogs in my book ‘The Lulu Duologues’