We all need some green in our lives. The sight of a shrub braving the madness of a busy footpath instantly lifts our mood. A gulmohar in full bloom evokes many a campus memory. And now we know it isn’t merely nostalgia. We know we are in for trouble with global warming and climate change looming large over us. We pine for disappearing forests, curse the concrete maze, and cringe at the sight of mounting garbage.

Yet, we leave it at that. And live as if there is no tomorrow. But in Kandalkkadu, a collection of seven eco-stories, we meet someone who not only feels deeply about the cause, but is also keen on reflecting on the ugly mess we have made for ourselves. The author, S. Mahadevan Thampi, a former additional director with the State Information Department, sets out on a reality check of our future.

What strikes the reader is the range of topics he deals with. From the shrinking paddy lands of our small verdant State to the international medical mafia, each story is a treasure trove of information. Perhaps that can be cited as a flaw: chunks after chunks of data interrupts the art of storytelling at times, however enlightening they may be. But on second thoughts, the gravity of the subject warrants it.

The most fascinating ones are ‘Shmashaanathile Pookkal’ that details an eye-popping variety of indigenous paddy seeds and ‘Kandalkkadu’, a gripping account of the all-encompassing goodness of mangroves. The book takes you through the deteriorating tribal life of Wayanad, the heart-rending decline of the Kuttanad legacy, the imminent fall of Valanthakkad, an omnipotent land mafia, and the ‘un-biting’ reality of our farmers.

Reading is always looking within. Reading such a book also prompts us to take a hard look outside, and appreciate the inalienable bond that we share with every blade of grass around.

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