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Updated: September 3, 2013 12:57 IST
Book Worm

Fight the monsoon army

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The forest is under threat. How can it be saved? Little Piddi has the answer.

“Small as I am, I believe I can hold the sky up with my feet!”

An amazing beginning to a modern fantasy fable. Paro Anand, writer, performance-storyteller and children’s-literature activist has chosen to write about issues we face concerning the environment.

Lone fight

Paro Anand tells a touching tale of a sparrow who tries to fight the danger faced by the forest. The writer highlights the dangers of deforestation.

The protagonist is a sparrow named Piddi. The animals gather to find a way to combat the onslaught of the Monsoon Army. In the previous years, the rain had been so severe that the river had flooded and as a consequence they and their forest had suffered. None of the animals can suggest a plausible solution. Should they run away from the forest, should they stay and fight the Monsoon Army, should they fight Man, who has been destroying their forest, are some of the questions they are faced with. Finally, when all ideas are exhausted, little Piddi comes up with her suggestion. At first everyone is sniggering and laughing at her. But in the end, Piddi’s solution alone seems to stand. As the meeting concludes, the distant roar of the thunder the animals disperse to home and safety. All, that is, except Piddi, who stays back to fight the Monsoon Army.

Though the main thrust of the story is the need to protect the environment, Piddi’s attitude is a lesson to all of us. No matter what your size, your age, your interests — there is always a chance you can make a difference. All you need is courage, self confidence and the will to see it done.

Paro Anand’s story of the destruction of the forest goes from despair and fear to ultimately hope and confidence. The descriptions especially of the rain as it beats down upon the forest send a chill down your spine and you can almost visualise the devastation the flood causes. It is a sad story in a sense but then the ending provides an assurance, a feeling of expectation that all is not lost. We can still make a difference, if we try.

The illustrations by Ajanta Guhathakurta are wacky and sure to catch your eye.

The Little Bird Who Held the Sky Up With His Feet by Paro Anand, Red Turtle, Rs. 150

An excerpt:

“Who do you think Leopard meant when he said we should catch those responsible for our misfortunes?”

“Could it be the Monsoon Army?”

“No, you fool, he meant Man who is the reason the hillsides are stripped of their protective cover of trees.”

“Battle Man? But how would we even begin to do that?”

“We have no time to battle with Man, our adversary, though it is none other than he who we have to blame for denuding our forest. It would be an impossible battle anyhow. They have weapons that can far outstrip any of ours. Now when our trouble looms large over our heads, it is better for us to put our hearts and minds to saving our forest home.” Hare spoke in a voice of calm reason that stilled the restless crowd. They saw now that it was by fat the only sensible thing to do. However impossible the task ahead seemed to them, it was only fair that each one his mind to finding a way. Who, knew, perhaps there was one.

“Ah well,"sighed the Slow Loris sadly, how wonderful it would be if I could think of something wise and wonderful to solve this tangle and become strong and powerful. But...” she shook her little head, “I don't suppose I'll ever be so clever.”

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