Veteran author Chaman Nahal seasons mythological figures with a scientific temper in his latest work, says ANUJ KUMAR
We tend to think that today's children are moving away from their traditional values as scientific temper has taken over all kinds of myths. Veteran author Chaman Nahal begs to differ. “The emerging generation is as much interested in scientific innovations as it's fond of mythology. The colonial hangover is fast becoming a thing of the past as today's child is a combination of tradition and modernity.”
Keeping this conviction in mind, Nahal has woven a trilogy around a fictional character Akela. “He is an ordinary boy who is bestowed with special powers by a sage. Everybody makes Supermen fly, but nobody explains how he does it against gravity. I have explained it as Akela uses a gravity ball to move against the earth's force. Then, he is gifted with a third eye to see afar and a square mirror to burn his enemies down.”
Best remembered for his novel “Azadi”, which won the Sahitya Akademi Award, and short story “The Silver Lining”, Nahal says he has kept the plots closer to facts — mythical or scientific — to make the desired impact.
“In the first one, ‘Akela And The Blue Monster', the 13-year-old boy fights the demon, who is out to shift the path of the Ganga so that the holy Haridwar will turn into a dry place. In ‘Akela And The Tsunami' he takes on the ghost of Ravan, who has been living in the depths of the Indian Ocean to seek his revenge. More than Ram, he believed it was the Southern kingdoms, who were responsible for his downfall as they supported the prince of Ayodhya. Ravan wanted to chop off South India from the Indian subcontinent, and a huge sea wave could have done it.”
In the third book, Akela takes on the UFOs as he saves the Vaishno Devi shrine from an alien attack.
Nahal feels if science is mixed with mythology in fiction, children could get the best of both the worlds. “Unfortunately we don't have many publishers supporting children's fiction, and perhaps that's why kids have to make do with foreign characters. Our past is full of glorious characters and it requires just a dash of imagination to weave them in interesting stories. During my research I went to the Andaman Islands and discovered that these islands were gifted to Hanuman by Lord Ram. It gave me an opportunity to bring Hanuman in my story.”
According to Nahal, the books have been included by some schools as part of supplementary reading and project work.