The story of Little Mermaid retold...and is now a journey of self discovery. Remember the Hans Christian Anderson’s little mermaid who wanted to become a human being and marry a human prince whom she loved dearly? Here is another version.
Taking off from Anderson’s story, The Flight of the Mermaid retold by Sirish Rao and Gita Wolf and illustrated by Bhajju Shyam, is a combination of story and tribal art. The narration is snappy yet retains the charm of the old.
The theme stands — of love and choice. And choosing can hurt, as it happens in the case of the mermaid. But here is a girl, who, to realise her dream dares to take risks, for that is the only way to achieve what she wants.
The story is also a journey of self discovery. The mermaid realises what she is and what she could have become — someone with monstrous ideas. This journey of the mermaid can well be our own.
The illustrator captures the essence of the story beautifully with the rich tradition of Gond tribal art. Most of the illustrations he has done are inspired by the legends of his tribes. And the filling in of the picture, starting from the edges and going in to the centre is distinctive of the work.
Strongly reminding one of aboriginal paintings — the dots and stark lines — the tribal paintings give life to the story. Bhajju Shyam leaves us with a powerful message: “We are keeping a memory alive — of things that are precious to us, like bonding, ceremonies and close communication of our people. But people expect us to be dressed still in leaves. This is not possible as the leaves don’t exist anymore, as there are no forests now.”
THE FLIGHT OF THE MERMAID, Tara Books, Rs. 560