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Updated: October 11, 2010 21:16 IST

Delightfully Indian!

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Rhymes that take you on a tour of a colourful India from mangoes to buffaloes to sherbets.

In Anarkali Street

I saw a big boot

‘That must be for

Gandhi's foot.'

But Mother tells me

That Gandhi's small

Just a thin little man

With no fat at all.

The rest of the poem “Bapu Ji” goes on to say how “thin” though Gandhiji be, his heart is big with love — for India and us.

A collection of poems on various Indian themes, written in the pre-Independence era by an Englishwoman for her Indian son, has been put together in Rhymes for Ranga, with each poem beautifully illustrated by artist Anna Bhushan.

Ranga grew up in Lahore. He loved nursery rhymes but there weren't any Indian rhymes for children in English. So his mother decided to write rhymes for and about him. That was the time India was fighting for freedom. Ranga would play in the golden mustard fields of Lahore, and sometimes would go with his parents to Kashmir in summer. He looked forward to Diwali and other festivals too.

Ranga went on bullock-cart rides, flew kites and loved hearing stories just like any child fascinated by the world around him. His mother Freda Bedi wrote loads of rhymes for Ranga that left the boy in awe of the India his mom portrayed.

Freda's rhymes on the mango season, the pigeon man, buffaloes round the well, baby pony and pet dog are vivid expressions of what Ranga saw and related to. There are, however, poems on the dawn of freedom, the ballad of the golden deer and the end of the world, written to evoke a sense of awareness and empathy in the little boy who grew up in India at a time very different from now. Still, the rhymes are delightfully relevant to the reader of today. Rhymes for Ranga reads like a song that is lively, rhythmic and inspiring.

RHYMES FOR RANGA, Freda Bedi, Random House India, Rs. 399


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