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Jamlo’s long walk home through lockdown

On April 18, 2020, Jamalo Makdan, a 12-year-old, died while walking from the chilli fields of Telangana to her home in Chhattisgarh after a nationwide lockdown was announced due to COVID-19 outbreak. She was among a group of migrant workers who, like many others across the country, decided to return home on foot. Her story touched filmmaker Samina Mishra so deeply that she made it into a book, the recently released Jamlo Walks (Puffin books).

A documentary filmmaker, writer and teacher based in Delhi, Samina who runs The Magic Key Centre for the Arts and Childhood was also troubled about the plight of children in the pandemic, especially at being confined to their homes with online classes. Samina created a 37-page picture book for children, depicting different lockdown experiences, which tells two stories in tandem.

She says, “It is a deliberate comparison, not to show any divide between the rich and poor, but as a portrayal of troubles that all children have suffered. I chose to tell Jamlo’s story to make readers give a moment to think of others, to be empathetic to the sufferings of people around us.”

Samina chose to do a picture book instead of a novel because she had to work with the limitation of being stuck at home. Being a documentary filmmaker, sights and sounds were important for her to flesh out a bigger story. “Being confined to home, there was no way I could get what it requires to make it a bigger story. Also, I felt some stories shouldn’t be probed deeper, especially for a certain age group.”

‘Chose to tell two stories’

While narrating the story of Jamalo’s journey, she also tells the story of Rahul and Tara, who live with their parents and attend online classes. “Adults sometimes take it for granted that children don’t understand the complexities of life. I disagree; they understand it from their point of view and that point of view is important. Hence, I chose to tell two stories.”

Jamlo’s long walk home through lockdown

The author says children can read Jamlo Walks by themselves as a story, or with their parents to let them explain about hardship. “The experience of the story is about our hardships. For some it is a little harder,” adds Samina

Samina acknowledges the work of art director Devangana Dash, illustrator Tarique Aziz and editor Smith Zaveri who collectively made it a cute little picture book with a story of a time that we had never never imagined facing. Samina adds, “Tarique’s illustration made a lot of difference; though it is a poignant story, he stuck to my wish of not wanting it to be bleak.”

Samina’s other books include Shabana and the Baby Goat, My Friends in the City, My Sweet Home and 101 Children's Books We Love! (as co-author) among others. Her next book Nida Finds a Way will be out soon.

Jamlo Walks is available on Amazon for ₹158.


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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 10:45:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/jamlo-walks-jamalo-makadan-covid-19-lockdown-samina-mishra/article34715641.ece

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