Your grandma would have narrated you innumerable stories from the two epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, during your childhood days. But do you recall her telling you one about a character from Ramayana who slept for 14 years. No, we are not talking about demon king Ravana’s son, Kumbhakarna (famous for his never-ending sleep) but the wife of the younger brother (Lakshmana) of Lord Rama, Urmila.
Know more about this princess of Mithila: how she accepted to sleep on behalf of her husband, Lakshmana so that he could remain awake without fatigue and serve Rama and Sita, in author Tulika Singh’s retold story of The Princess Who Slept for 14 Years. One of the four books retold by Singh and released recently by notionpress.com, one of the fastest growing book publishing companies in India that aims to solve problems in book publishing and distribution by creating highly scalable solutions, The Princess Who Slept for 14 Years as also the other four, have been beautifully illustrated by Ashutosh Chandra.
The other titles by Singh include Shabri Ke Ram where the author talks about a compassionate and loving tribal girl, Shabri, who despite getting old and being called mad, waits for years on end for Lord Rama at the hermitage of Sage Matang and finally leaves for heaven after meeting him.
The Boy Who Remained 16 is the story of Markandeya, a teenager who fights all odds and survives after he gets to know that he shall die on his 16th birthday. Parijat is about the magical tree which grew from a princess’ ashes and bore clusters of fragrant flowers and that legend reveals it to have descended on earth from heaven.
Pages 24, Price Rs 199 each
And finally, 7 Colors of Holi where the author picks up VIBGYOR (violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red), choosing to replace orange with saffron to perhaps Indianise it a bit. Singh connects Holi with various legends in the country like ogress (demon) Dhundhi; birthday of Manu, the first man created by Lord Brahma; playing the festival of colours with flowers at the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan on the Ekadashi before Holi and likewise… She also gives a quick guide to make colours from natural sources like violet from blueberries, indigo from berries, blue from jacaranda flowers and yellow either with haldi-besan or petals of marigold flowers…
Pages 44, Price Rs 299
While the books are lovely reads though few irritants spoil the pleasure of reading like non-uniformity in names as it can confuse the young minds. In The Princess Who Slept for 14 Years, if it is Ram, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughan then it should be Ravan and not Ravana as also Ramayan and not Ramayana. Similarly, in 7 Colors of Holi, the back cover has Shiva, Krishna while it is Balram in the same line. Both the author and editor should have taken care to either write Hindi names and followed it throughout the book.
Then there are a few grammatical bloopers too – the back page of The Boy Who Remained 16 reads – A teenage boys audacious journey to find… whereas it should have read – A teenage boy’s audacious journey to find…
Similarly, in Parijat, the brief about the book on the back cover ends with Lets Read whereas it should be Let’s Read. The editor has also forgotten to put a question mark in the sentence that ends before Let’s Read — Does it really make our wishes come true. It should be – Does it really make our wishes come true? The editor should have ensured that no grammatical errors creep into the text, more so as the books are directed towards young kids, who are not yet strong on the language front.
Another problem is that the publication has not followed one writing style. The text is a mix of British and American English. The Boy Who Remained 16 mentions on its back page — …Story of intense faith and perseverance told with coloured illustrations whereas in the 7 Colors of Holi, colours is used as colors on the front cover while it is spelt as colours on the back page… Kids are bound to get confused over word spellings?