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Does dark include truth as well?

March 30, 2009

That was Mr. P.K. Mukherjee’s question in response to Joydhk’s question on what should be the content of children’s literature.
As Joydhak does not have enough vocabulary to give a conclusive definition of “Dark” in this context, we shall try to elucidate with an example:

Let us consider the recently published news of a sex maniac monster and his daughter in the dungeon for more than two decades. Its a truth. Its reality. Its dark. That is Joydhak’s perception of “dark” so far as children’s literature is concerned. That is what Joydhak denies to dish out to children.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Sujoy Roy, Kolkata permalink
    June 17, 2009 17:13

    Child fiction should steer away from dark emotions of crime and horror. A child bears an enchanted innocence beyond wisdom. A little lass canters and dances like no one is watching her. She should not be hit with angst and atavistic fears. Fear is not a right motivator, undermines the confidence and diminishes the child .What comes to mind is “The wonderful wizard of Oz”, written by L. Baum. Its a different in the genre of children’s classic in avoiding the negative vibes and emotions and crudity of old fairy tales of fantastically contorted wiches and mythical realms of dragons and demons ; its neither the same as post-modern preoccupations with distant galaxies infested with zombies in apocalyptic wastelands. A child craves for stories. That’s what makes antsy children quiet.The wizard of Oz is special because it is exuberantly big hearted, joyful embrace of the minutiae of daily life in an atmosphere of happy goodnight air for the little fellow to sleep and slip into a dreamy playground. The child loves tales chiefly for pleasure, not for packaging serious knowledge as adults look for. Leela Mazumder said so. I hardly know of any better reading than her “Padipishir Burmi baksho” and “Dine dupure”. ( Satyi je kokhon shesh hoi, swapna je kokhon shuru hoi bola mushkil.) Swapan torir neye .
    Nonsense humour using the method of logical inversion is nonsense (children enjoy), but the study of nonsense is scholarship (which adults do). The jabberwocky of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, Sukumar Roy’s “Abol Tabol ( Rhyme without reason) with weired creatures as Griffonling and Higgle Piggle Dee will continue to tickle a funny bone amongst kids and the adult(child). Sukumar advanced an apologia that the this brand of humour was conceived in a spirit of whimsy. In his old days Tagore composed Khapchara” in the same vein. In the last few lines of Abol tabol the poet is jesting in the shadow of his final days:
    “A keen primordial lunar chill,
    The nightmare’s nest with bunchy frill-
    My drowsy brain such glimpses steep,
    And all my singing ends in sleep.”
    Alice in wonderland is pure whimsidal realm. Its icon of extinction is Dodo. The creature never had a chance, it seems to have been invented solely for the purpose becoming extinct. After Alce “Ha-ja-bara-la “(Topsy Turvy Tale) comes up with close familiarity. And do not forget to tie the knot of memory-setting every now and then in between mysterious vanishing act of of things plaguaging the moments. I have to raise the house, hunt high and low for the blasted combs and Sorbitrates; they play truant and make for a story of another day. Missing objects are crazy, but found objects such as an icecream cone in the freezer is an easy grab.Where did my favourite childhood illustrated books duck away? I keep missing them more and more distressingly? They went down the rabbit hole in Alice’s wonderland.Tumbled down to the garden through a subterranean cavern. They enjoy a rip roaring laughter regaling one another about how they escaped the clutches of two legged monsters above ground. Should serious men smoke out the rabbit hole?
    And the adventure stories of “Chander pahar”, whale -hunting in Moby Dick along with its sea-gazing and wandering how happiness is bound up with waves! Tintin, whose adventures have delighted children and adults over the world remains an ageless boy reporter; he began life eighty years ago at the age of fifteen. Take the case of Santa Claus. If he did not exist, it would be necy. to invent him as a jolly giver of children’s gifts. Red is regarded as the colour of love.Wonder why Santa is is dressed in red and rides a sleigh drven by red-nosed reindeer, unless , of course,he drives down other people’s chimneys at midnight with entirely amorous intentions.. And such pen-pictures of Dickens can tickle a young one as this:”his moustache went up under his nose and his nose came down under his mushtache ”
    Is Snow White a vampire because she lies in the coffin without decaying? My village was a beehive of rumours about sleepwalking and and whisper-shouting to awaken the somnambulist. Every mile away there were habitations of spooks with names and local tags. Absurdly weired names such as “ekanore” used to give us creeps. Wild fantasmogria ! Such heebie-jeebies were staple for our childhood tale in pastoral light and shade. When I piled up some years I read through “‘Dracula”… “I have crossed oceans of time to find you”, snarled the “un-dead” count before blood-sucking a woman!
    Other day I experienced a cheer as best cheer can be amongst a bunch of picknickers in advanced years, never mind their third legs. These up and coming senior citizens of new decades are not wanting in falling in love, sticking a curiosity nose at whats-goin-on in the midnight ball of the young. They don’t seem to grow old, but grow up, yes. Adolescent at the age of sixty. And many amonst the grey hairs are bibliophiles, busy in biblotherapy. Lliterature of man’s lamb white days has never failed to appeal to all age tags. Besides give the devil his due. Hitler’s private library had a collection 16000 books. He ranked Robinson Crusoe, Uncle Tom’s cabin and Gulliver’s travels as high water marks of world literature.
    Gone are days of story telling. Love of story-telling is human nature, sitting around watch fires; amidst forest clearings beguiling the evening hours retailing yarns of big game hunting of Corbett or the Maharaja of Coochbehar’s thirty years of game chasing. My granfather’s diary about of forest excursions riding his favourite elephant (Gangaprasad) driven by Maulabux along with the white magistracy of the day is family legend. The beast was temperamental, he seemed to be cast in such a role as “born free”. In the war times the beast had been commissioned by the Raj to carry logs. The war was over but he was not aware whether hostilities had ceased. He used to sassay majestically through the forest shouldering grandpa and his guests followed by others of his species pall- bearing from behind. Grandpa was about that time learning a smattering of English in the company with the British. But he mistimed and did English to the beast, not once but annoyingly thrice. That miffed the animal, he shrugged his master off the shoulder flooring him. Ever since then grandpa hung up his boots, the hunting gears and the guns like a lame duck zamindar contemplating his navel, and scripting a diary about his smooth jog trot in life that was, now over.
    …The voice of the rairoad journey, Goaland Express hurtling through the country side , cinder-scented from the coal engine, babble of grinding wheels and shuddering window frames , whistling and hooting, painting the blue sky in dark puff-clouds was the story of the rural sites of Jessore and Nishchindipur in our salad days. I am Apu the wide-eyed boy.
    Literature would miss a lot without a risky gamble of a boy writing an indiscreet letter of romantic crap to to a girl that he is willing to to turn into a soccer ball so that she could kick him around. Then sign himself “hastily yours”… on a soap paper. A lucky sunshine glistened on the girl’s skin. For all one knows the lass would be as unappreciating as a duck would shake away champagne from its back.This was part of growing up. And cozying in with whodunnit stories about identity of murderers on a Sunday afternoon while monsoon rained outside was a no-exit world of engagement.
    Today the environment has changed.There is hardly a green swath left where the air kisses. And no more reading aloud amongst family members. (The trend is moving over to listening to audio books). Reading with one’s lungs and diaphragm, with tongue and lips makes for a seductive tenderness. Bed time stories used to be the breath and soul of grandma of rumbustious kids. She opened many a door to her little pests.
    But our salad days were short of being long. Suddenly my plans were snooker-shot into disarray. The wisdom sack on my little back on way to school became a gag. I crashed out from childhoot gate, and in fulness of time launched on course to becoming a characteristic Indian with an argumentative pinch of snuff.
    It is an adult’s loss and separation from the wonderful intimations of immortality,so natural to the child.
    Good wishes for many merry stories for Joydhak.
    Sujoy Roy

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