Play for children

MUTHTHARAM: C. Shenbagavalli; Gandhi Peace Foundation, 248/332, Ambujammal Street, off T.T.K. Road, Chennai-600018.

Rs. 40.

HERE IS a little book for children, with two dozen short and sparkling one-act imaginative plays grounded on interesting and ennobling incidents in Gandhiji's life drawn from the Mahatma's Autobiography written in fluent and simple style that is sure to delight youngsters.

The plays include little Mohandas' fear of ghosts, spirits and darkness which he overcame through the chanting of the name of Rama taught to him by an affectionate servant-maid, Ramba, ("I think it is due to the seed sown in childhood by that good woman that today Ramanama is an infallible remedy for me", writes Gandhiji in his Autobiography), the chance reading of the story of Shravana's devotion to his parents, and witnessing a play on King Harishchandra that haunted young Gandhi "day and night" ("To follow truth and to go through all the ordeals Harishchandra went through was one ideal it imparted me" — Autobiography), girl Kasthurba asserting her independence that irked Mohandas who much later realising that a husband has no right to lord over his wife, the turning-point in Gandhiji's life when in South Africa he was bundled out of a first-class railway compartment, are all artfully depicted to suit the curiosity and grasp of school children.

The Salt Satyagraha (1930) and Gandhiji's conversation with a little girl in London suburb where he stayed during the Round Table Conference (1931) that fall outside the text of his Autobiography (it ends with events of 1921) have been equally transformed by the author into enjoyable conversation intertwined with a moral trend.

The book concludes with crisp and gripping account, written by Dr. S. Kulandaisamy, of Gandhiji's last day of life. An ideal book for children to read and enact scenes in school functions and cultural platforms, thus imbibing in the process basic Gandhian ideals.


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